France – Equality

II. The State’s Obligation to Protect Human Rights

The European Framework

8. Trade and Investment Agreements [page 30]

… ISDS [investor-State dispute settlement] makes it possible to obtain rulings against States that do not respect their commitments (for example, due to discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, nationality, etc.) …

Actions Underway:

  • The AFD [The Agence Française de Développement] is working to reduce gender inequality in AFD-funded operations.


II. Business’ Responsibility to Respect Human Rights

3. Risk Analysis and Impact Assessment

Practical tools addressing specific issues [page 41]

  • ILO has created a business helpdesk providing questions and answers, resources and tools on issues connected with … discrimination …


III. Access to Remedy

1. Judicial Mechanisms – At the National Level

1.4 Proceedings

The jurisdiction of French courts to hear criminal matters [page 49]

… More specifically, French legislation is strict in combating human rights violations by legal entities. Under French law, it is a criminal offence for companies to engage in activities that breach … equality laws (gender discrimination, anti-union discrimination, denying the freedom to work, corruption) …

Collective Actions [page 51]

… Given the different fields of application mentioned in the bill, collective actions will become a tool allowing plaintiffs to stop or remedy discrimination in the labour field and elsewhere…


2. Non- Judicial Mechanisms – At the National Level

2.5 The Defender of Rights [page 58]

… Any individual or legal entity can call on the Defender of Rights when they consider that they have been discriminated against or when they observe public or private representatives of law and order (police officers, customs officers, security guards, etc.) engaging in improper conduct …

… Given the Defender of Rights’ jurisdiction over discrimination-related matters, he/she plays a role in dealing with cases and mediation proceedings concerning CSR.

2.6 Grievance Mechanisms in Companies [pages 58-59]

Pursuant to UN Guiding Principle 29, “To make it possible for grievances to be addressed early and remediated directly, business enterprises should establish or participate in effective operational-level grievance mechanisms for individuals and communities who may be adversely impacted”, companies establish their own grievance mechanisms …

In practice, grievance mechanisms in companies are generally: …

  • Mechanisms dealing with specific issues: harassment, discrimination, specific activities or specific countries