High hopes for mandatory human rights due diligence in 2020

Author: Saskia Wilkes, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre , Published on: 17 December 2019

The last years have seen momentum behind mandatory human rights due diligence (HRDD) legislation grow rapidly. At the international level there are ongoing efforts to advance due diligence laws under a proposed legally binding UN treaty on business and human rights, and increasingly governments are adopting or debating such regulatory measures at the national and regional level...

Two years after France pioneered HRDD legislation in 2017 through the Duty of Vigilance law, a dozen European countries have discussions underway on HRDD legislation... Importantly, the conversation has also moved to a regional level. Under its Presidency of the European Union (EU), Finland has committed to promote this goal at an EU level and held discussions on HRDD legislation at its high-level EU conference on business and human rights...

Support from business and investors is key to give a market signal to policymakers on the viability and desirability of HRDD legislation. Businesses have been a part of several campaigns for HRDD, including in Finland and Switzerland. In the case of the Dutch child labour law, a group of companies, including major Dutch companies such as Heineken, sent a supportive letter to parliament. A rising number of companies such as Daimler, Mars and Nestlé are joining the ranks of supporters who see value in harmonised and binding standards set by governments for clarifying expectations, offering legal certainty and ensuring a level playing field...

At the same time, other companies fiercely oppose binding legislation. In Switzerland, a group of 19 companies were accused of lobbying against a mandatory HRDD proposal making its way through parliament. This prompted a response from the author of the UNGPs John Ruggie clarifying that such laws are in fact consistent with the UNGPs despite what companies had claimed.

Read the full post here