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14 Aug 2020

Germany: Monitoring of the National Action Plan on Business & Human Rights

Bundestag in Berlin, Germany

The German National Action Plan (NAP) on business and human rights sets out the expectation for at least 50% of German companies with more than 500 employees to have introduced effective human rights due diligence measures into their business processes by 2020. According to its coalition agreement, the Government has committed to taking legal action if this target is not reached. As part of a monitoring process the Government is currently reviewing to what extent companies are meeting their due diligence obligations.

On 10 July 2019 the Federal Foreign Office published the first interim report, outlining the methodology and the questionnaire for the 2019 survey. NGOs, media and parliamentarians criticized in particular the inclusion of additional evaluation groups 'Companies with implementation plan' and 'Companies on the right track' (BHRRC translation) as well as the current failure to consider 'non-responders'.

The first quantitative survey was completed on 31 October 2019, and the findings published in the second Interim Report in February 2020. The key result: Merely 17-19 percent of businesses were able to show that they are adequately meeting the NAP requirements on human rights due diligence.

The final quantitative survey began on 2 March 2020, the results of which were presented to the Government on 11 August: Only 13-17 percent of the 455 companies that submitted a valid response fully meet the NAP requirements.

Quoting preliminary results, Federal Ministers Heil and Müller had already said that the coalition agreement now applies. Federal Chancellor Merkel also announced her backing for a law.

Further information including interim reports and NGO statements are available in the thread below. Here is an overview of official reports published by the monitoring consortium commissioned by the Federal Government:

  • Inception Report, September 2018 (German)
  • 1st Interim Report, "Explorative Phase 2018", July 2019 (German)
    • Including the monitoring questionnaire, available in English as a separate document
  • 2nd Interim Report, "Survey Phase 2019", February 2020 (German, English)
  • 3rd Interim Report, "Survey Phase 2020", September 2020 (German, English)
  • Final report, October 2020 (German, English)