This article was originally published on Human Rights Watch
“The German government’s proposed law governing companies’ obligations to respect human rights in supply chains is a step in the right direction but needs improving in key areas, Human Rights Watch said today. Parliament should explicitly require companies to assess and address human rights risks on an ongoing and systematic basis along the whole supply chain, including suppliers several steps down.
The proposed human rights due diligence law will require large companies based and operating in Germany to assess and respond to human rights risks in their own operations and among their direct suppliers. For suppliers further down the supply chain, the law says that companies have to conduct “incident-related” human rights due diligence when they have “substantiated knowledge” of potential abuses. But under international norms for business and human rights, companies have a responsibility to conduct human rights due diligence throughout the whole supply chain.
“It is good news that the government has finally proposed a human rights due diligence law for businesses,” said Juliane Kippenberg, associate children’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. “But if this law is to prevent the worst abuses in global supply chains, companies need to systematically assess and address risks with suppliers who are several steps away, and not just in exceptional cases where NGOs or media ring the alarm bell.””