The purpose of this guidance note is to inform relevant stakeholders—those affected by human rights violations and environmental destruction along the transnational value chains of German companies, as well as civil society organizations in producing countries—about this new law and its possibilities.
ECCHR has filed a complaint against VW, BMW and Mercedes Benz with BAFA, arguing that the companies have not presented evidence showing that they are responding adequately to the risk of forced labour in supplier factories in the Xinjiang Autonomous Uyghur Region. The complaint is backed by the World Uyghur Congress and the Dachverband der Kritischen Aktionäre (German Umbrella Association of Critical Shareholders).
The new guide details what trade union representatives, particularly those in works councils or supervisory boards in Germany, should expect from a risk assessment under international standards and the German Supply Chain Act, which mandates human rights due diligence.
On 24 April, the 10th anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse, The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, FEMNET and National Garment Workers Federation filed a complaint on the basis of the German Supply Chain Act which came into force in January 2023.
While the discussions on sustainable corporate governance and supply chain due diligence continue at EU level and a proposal for a directive has been postponed several times, Germany is sending a strong signal.
On many crucial points, policy-makers weren’t able to withstand the massive pressure to weaken the text exerted by business associations and some political representatives. As a result, the act risks losing effectiveness and falls short of upholding and implementing the standards set in UNGPs on important points.
On 22 July 2021, the act was published in the Federal Law Gazette. This represents the first time that the responsibility of German companies to respect human rights in global supply chains has been given a legal foundation.
Initiative Lieferkettengesetz welcomed the German Government's announcement but criticised that the proposal does not include additional civil liability. They are now calling on MPs who still need to vote on the proposal to ensure the due diligence requirements are UNGP-aligned.
A position paper on the key elements for a Due Diligence Act has recently been leaked in Germany. Relevant companies may face potential civil liability for damages for any human rights violations occurring where they have failed to take adequate steps. In this post, Mina Aryobsei and Marius Scherb look at the main aspects of this new draft law and the wider context in which it has been published.