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16 Sep 2022

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

EU: UN Human Rights voices concerns over possible exclusion of downstream impacts from Due Diligence Directive

"Mandating Downstream Human Rights Due Diligence", 13. September 2022

In February 2022, the European Commission published its proposed draft Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CS3D). Consistent with its ongoing engagement on mandatory human rights due diligence, UN Human Rights welcomes the EU’s leadership. We have noted various ways in which the directive should be strengthened to ensure better alignment to international standards, notably the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPS) and OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

Building on these earlier calls for this milestone piece of legislation to be aligned with international standards, UN Human Rights is concerned about the proposition being advanced by some stakeholders that the requirements of CS3D should not apply to downstream impacts on human rights that a company may be involved in. As this statement sets out, such an exclusion would:

  • Not align with the UNGPs and could undermine the international consensus about the scope of the Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights.
  • Undercut the EU’s own stated objectives to “foster sustainable and responsible corporate behaviour throughout global value chains” (link) and “avoid fragmentation of due diligence requirements in the single market and create legal certainty for businesses and stakeholders as regards expected behaviour and liability” (see page 3 of the draft proposal).
  • Neglect significant human rights impacts related to business activities in key sectors. Examples include but are not limited to online and offline technolgy-related harms such as algorithmic discrimination, as well as parts of the retail, tourism, hospitality, food and beverage, and consumer finance sectors.
  • Lag behind the extensive efforts by companies in diverse industries to implement downstream human rights due diligence (HRDD). Such action offers a clear market signal that companies and their stakeholders deem downstream impacts as critically important, and demonstrate that human rights due diligence along the whole value chain is possible. [...]