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France

I- The State’s Obligation to Protect Human Rights

The International Framework [page 13]

… France also chairs the Group of Friends of Paragraph 47 of the Rio+20 Declaration. This group promotes sustainable development reporting to better ensure that economic actors respect social, environmental, good governance and human rights standards. This group successfully advocated for reporting to be reinforced and extended to all SDGs. …

Actions Underway [page 16]

  • Working with the Group of Friends of Paragraph 47 of the Rio+20 Declaration, France supports the reinforcement of reporting requirements in the environmental, social and governance fields, especially with respect to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted on 25 September 2015.

 

The European Framework

7. The European Union (EU) [page 17]

France has played an important role in ensuring that these issues are high on the European agenda, particularly with respect to the adoption of the European directive on binding non-financial reporting, which France actively supported during negotiations. It also promoted the inclusion of social, environmental and governance standards in trade and investment agreements (see section 8 below). It helped to ensure that the conclusions of the Council of the EU under the Dutch Presidency were adopted, supporting the enforcement of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and their integration into development policy. …

Footnote: See Directive 2014/95/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 amending Directive 2013/34/EU as regards disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large undertakings and groups, OJ L 330 of 15 November 2014.

Actions Underway

  • France has made human rights a requirement in non-financial reporting following the transposition of European Directive 2014/95/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 amending Directive 2013/34/EU as regards disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large undertakings and groups.

 

The National Framework

10. The Reinforcement of Legislation [page 23]

Recent public policies have led France to adopt new legislative measures supporting CSR.

… France also played a key role in developing transparency obligations for companies at the European level. It was the main supporter of the draft directive on non-financial reporting obligations, published on 22 October 2014, which requires large European listed companies to publish reports on their social, environmental, human rights and corruption policies. France encouraged the European Commission to take an ambitious approach when adopting the guidelines discussed in the directive. The directive is currently in the final stages of being transposed into French law. This will reinforce existing non-financial reporting requirements for companies. …

13. The Role of Public Agencies

Actions to be Implemented [page 30]

  • Make the [Agence Française de Développement] AFD funding for businesses conditional on implementing or undertaking to implement non-financial reporting and a CSR due diligence plan for projects, or on the enforcement of host country or international standards.

15. Economic Sectors and Human Rights

The Financial Sector [page 35]

… One of the instruments France has implemented for businesses is increased transparency by way of non-financial reporting requirements.

There have been a number of voluntary international initiatives by the financial sector to promote human rights (the Equator Principles, UNEP Finance Initiative, the development of Socially Responsible Investment, and the Global Compact). However, France has implemented a regulatory framework that is relatively unique in that some of its provisions specifically target this sector (the Grenelle II Act of 12 July 2010).

Actions Underway [page 36]

  • … France is examining whether to extend environmental, social and governance reporting requirements for institutional investors in Europe to cover human rights.

 

II- Businesses’ Responsibility to Respect Human Rights

Introduction

In March 2015, the National CSR Platform agreed on the following points with respect to due diligence [page 38]

  • … Defining the operational content of reasonable due diligence processes for companies in due diligence plans. These plans would distinguish between subsidiaries and subcontractors given the different due diligence processes applicable to each of these cases. The goal of these plans would be to identify and prevent human rights and environmental risks resulting from business operations. The French NCP’s work on the textile and garment sector could be a useful reference. Parent companies and outsourcing companies would have to disclose the due diligence processes they implement, in compliance with the European directive on non-financial reporting.

1. Charters and Codes of Conduct

Existing Tools [page 39]

6. Reporting [page 44]

Businesses must monitor the human rights measures they adopt and disclose on their initiatives in this field.

Under European Directive 2014/95/EU, human rights will become one of the pillars of CSR. This position will be reflected in French reporting requirements when the directive is transposed into national law. It should be noted that human rights reporting is already a requirement under the regulatory provisions of the Commercial Code. Decree 2012-557 of 24 April 2012 on the social and environmental transparency obligations of businesses places human rights on an equal footing with other issues.

Actions Underway

  • France is continuing to implement monitoring indicators and communicate with external stakeholders on business commitments and enforcement under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Actions to be Implemented

  • Implement provisions to help transpose the European Directive on non-financial reporting into French law.

The performance of measures adopted by businesses to respect and communicate on human rights can be monitored in the following ways:

  • By using existing global and sector-specific indicators or new company-specific indicators, and by formalizing internal annual reporting systems for the actions implemented;
  • By including points to be checked in existing internal supervisory mechanisms;
  • By monitoring and addressing human rights incidents;
  • By issuing annual reports that can be viewed by the public.

Existing Tools and Responsible Practices [page 45]

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