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Czechia

National Action Plan – production and objectives [page 6-7]

“… this Action Plan’s commitments … make it easier for businesses to keep clear of such situations in their supply chains and among their business partners.”

Most serious infringements of working conditions [page 16]

“There may be numerous labour-law violations in supply chains, via temporary employment agencies, or at entities that act as recruiters but do not hold a permit to do so.”

Supply chains and conflict minerals [page 20-21]

“Current state of play:

  • Numerous voluntary certification schemes run by states and international organisations on the one hand and the private sector on the other attempt to map out the origin of raw materials and supply chains. …
  • Under the new European rules on non-financial reporting, companies will also publish information on their supply chains.
  • The Czech Republic was involved in the consultation and approval of the OECD-FAO Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains. The Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Agriculture will arrange for this Guidance to be published and publicised at their seminars and workshops.
  • The Czech Republic was involved in the consultation and approval of OECD recommendations on the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas and Due Diligence Guidance for Meaningful Stakeholder Engagement in the Extractive Sector. The Ministry of Industry and Trade IS now considering how they can best be implemented in the Czech Republic.

Tasks:

  • Establish one or more competent bodies responsible for the application, in the Czech Republic, of Regulation (EU) 2017/821 of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down supply chain due diligence obligations for Union importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating from conflict-affected and high-risk areas, and notify that body (those bodies) to the European Commission.
    Coordinator: Ministry of Trade and Industry
    Deadline: 9 December 2017
  • In the public sector’s procurement of high-risk products and raw materials, consider giving preference to suppliers participating in recognised certification schemes.
    Coordinators: All ministries
    Deadline: Running”

Public procurement [page 23]

“In their public procurement, contracting authorities should know how to reflect and evaluate environmental and social requirements and the protection of human rights correctly in relation both to the supplier and, as far as practicable, the supplier’s subcontractors.”

State enterprises and companies in which the state has a shareholding [page 26-27]

“… [State enterprises and companies in which the state has a shareholding] should ensure a high level of prevention in order to avoid becoming involved in violations of human rights indirectly (e.g. in supply chains). …

Tasks:

  • Recommend that state enterprises and companies in which the state has a shareholding insert clauses in new contracts that allow for the contractual relationship to be terminated if the counterparty or supply chain is found to seriously violate human rights or universally recognised ethical and moral standards.
    Coordinators: All ministries concerned
    Deadline: Running”

Pillar II, Scope and content of the obligation to respect human rights [page 30-34]

“For businesses, there are three dimensions to respect for human rights: …

  • Do not contribute to violations of human rights: A business does not commit violations itself, but acts in a way that facilitates or smooths the way for violations. This may encompass: …
    • Pressure on suppliers to circumvent safety and labour-law standards.
  • Do not be associated with violations of human rights: This applies to other parties’ activities about which a business knows, on which it has a bearing, and/or which are closely related to its own business, and may encompass: …
    • The use of suppliers or subcontractors who exploit child labour or otherwise violate human rights in their activities …

Where does respect come into play? Unlike a state, which is duty-bound to protect human rights everywhere in its jurisdiction, a business’s liability depends on where it exercises genuine influence and what sort of control it wields over a situation:

  • The supply chain and business partners: Businesses should have a vested interest in ensuring that the components, raw materials and external services they use are not associated with violations of human rights (e.g. “sullied” by child labour). Although this is beyond the direct control of businesses, they could negotiate the corresponding contractual clauses and, in extreme cases, switch suppliers. Their toolkit here includes the tender conditions employed, human rights clauses in contracts (the possibility of terminating a contract if wayward conduct is detected and the possibility of running checks), the requirement of internationally recognised certification, etc. …

What should a commitment encompass?

  • Relations with partners: Although an internal document cannot dictate how business partners are to conduct themselves, it can influence them indirectly. In this respect, businesses should specify – as part of their commitment – what standard of care they expect from their partners and suppliers and, status permitting, they should implement that standard in the form of tender conditions of contractual clauses or by other means. …

A commitment is not merely an internal document. It is a statement by a business that it is aware of and serious about its human rights responsibility. Besides being posted on the corporate website, the commitment should also be incorporated into communications with suppliers, investors, business partners and other groupings. These communications should encompass the following information:

  • How did the commitment come about?
  • What target groups (right-holders) does it concern?
  • How will it be disseminated among those it concerns?
    • Among those who are to implement it (employees, suppliers)?
    • Among the right-holders who are to protect it?”

Due diligence [page 36]

“Human rights auditing should extend beyond the actual business to some extent and touch on the activities of external entities, such as those in the supply chains. Businesses could have a hand in violations of human rights through their own negligence, including via their subsidiaries and suppliers. Such conduct, despite not being wilful or intentional, does not relieve a business of liability as it could be viewed – by the courts and the public – as a form of negligence or failure to engage in appropriate supervision.

Although it is impossible for a business to carry out due diligence at an external entity to the same extent as internal due diligence, those areas that are most at risk should be identified, someone should be singled out as liable for infringements of rights and, where possible and feasible, specific steps to eliminate these risks should be demanded. If external risks identified, businesses should exercise any influence they have to stave off those risks, for example by sharing good practices and their own experience. Businesses lacking such influence should leverage their links with other entities (customers, suppliers, business associations, trade unions and bodies of public administration). If they have no way of influencing such conduct, they should weigh up the option of terminating cooperation.”

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