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Germany

The German NAP includes many references to supply chains and value chains throughout the NAP, as well as containing a specific section on it.

I. Introduction [page 3]

“The “Made in Germany” label stands for high quality and reliability. At the same time, the increasing involvement of German enterprises in global supply and value chains presents both opportunities and challenges. New markets and production facilities are established, which creates employment and prosperity. At the same time, however, companies operating in global supply and value chains are exposed to risks arising from a lack of transparency and the frequently inadequate respect for human rights and for labour, social, and environmental standards. This applies especially to production in developing and newly industrialised countries but also within Germany.”

III. Federal Government expectations regarding corporate due diligence in respecting human rights [page 7-12]

“With regard to corporate respect for human rights, the Federal Government expects all enterprises to introduce the process of corporate due diligence described below in a manner commensurate with their size, the sector in which they operate, and their position in supply and value chains.”

Scope and practical structuring of due diligence in the field of human rights

“The responsibility to exercise due diligence applies in principle to all enterprises, regardless of their size, the sector in which they operate, or their operational context within a supply or value chain with an international dimension.”

Procedure for the identification of actual and potential adverse impacts on human rights

“Central to the exercise of due diligence is the establishment of a procedure that serves to identify, to prevent or to mitigate potentially adverse effects of corporate activity on human rights. It is not – or not only – a matter of considering risks to the company’s own business activity but is primarily about risks to the human rights of those who may be affected by corporate activity, such as employees of the enterprise itself or of other companies in the supply chain, local populations and customers. …

An initial risk analysis on the part of an enterprise should be conducted for each division or each product category and possibly for each location too. The starting point may be a simple overview of the company’s main activities and of the value chains and business relations these activities entail. …”

Measures and effectiveness tracking

“On the basis of the results of the analysis, measures should be identified and incorporated into business activity. Such measures may, for example, comprise specialised training of particular employees in-house or with suppliers, adaptation of particular management processes, changes in the supply chain and participation in sectoral initiatives”

Reporting

“…At the same time, such reporting obligations should not impose disproportionate administrative burdens on the reporting companies or on the SMEs in their supply chains.”

Measures

  • “The Federal Government expects all enterprises to introduce the processes described above in a manner commensurate with their size, the sector in which they operate and their position in supply and value chains. Their compliance will be reviewed annually from 2018. In the absence of adequate compliance, the Federal Government will consider further action, which may culminate in legislative measures and in a widening of the circle of enterprises to be reviewed (see chapter VI below).
  • The National Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Forum of the Federal Government, comprising representatives of the political and business communities, trade unions, civil society and academic professions will draw up an intersectoral “CSR consensus” paper on corporate responsibility in value and supply chains and present it to the Federal Government as a recommendation. …”

1.2 Public procurement [page 21]

“By placing greater emphasis on sustainability in their procurement transactions, public authorities not only perform their function as role models but can also wield significant leverage in increasing the supply of sustainable products.”

2. Challenges in corporate practice [page 27]

“Enterprises can impact beneficially as well as adversely on the exercise of human rights within their own production processes and in their supply and value chains, both through their own business activity and through their business relationships.”

2.1 Ensuring the protection of human rights in supply and value chains [page 28-30]

“Throughout the world, the expectations of consumers, civil society and trade unions in terms of product quality and transparency of production are rising. Their attention is increasingly focused on factors such as environmental protectionand social and employment standards along manufacturers’ supply chains. In many cases these supply chains are not transparent, and it is difficult to assess the situation with regard to individual enterprises within the chain. This increases the risk of adverse impacts on human rights and on social, labour and environmental standards in host countries. These countries often lack an adequate legislative basis or state supervision and enforcement of compliance with existing laws.

The Federal Government nevertheless expects enterprises to discharge their responsibility to exercise due diligence as regards human rights and therefore to create and apply appropriate management instruments that minimise the risk of involvement in the generation of any adverse impact (see chapter III above). The fact is that every enterprise, through its business activity, has an influence on the living and working conditions of its employees, on its customers and suppliers, on the environment and on the wider economic context. The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, to which Germany is committed, call on enterprises, within the context of their own activities at home and abroad, including those of their subsidiaries, to respect human rights and to do everything they can to avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts. This also offers German enterprises the opportunity to positively shape the operating environment in host countries by joining efforts and so to improve the conditions for stable business activity and for the creation of new markets.”

The current situation

“In the framework of the German presidency of the G7 in 2015, the Federal Government was a driving force behind the successful proposal to include a chapter on responsible supply chains in the Leaders’ Declaration. In that chapter, the private sector is being urged to exercise due diligence with regard to human rights. Together with the Heads of State or Government of the other G7 nations, the Federal Chancellor declared the Government’s support for the promotion of sustainability standards in global supply chains, including decent working conditions. To this end, the G7 are to:

  • support efforts to set up substantive national action plans for the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles,
  • increase transparency within supply chains,
  • promote instruments for the identification and prevention of risks,
  • strengthen grievance mechanisms,
  • encourage best practices
  • and, in particular, assist small and medium-sized enterprises in developing a common understanding of due diligence and responsible supply-chain management.

Host countries are assisted by means of capacity-building measures in introducing and upholding environmental and social standards. The Federal Government has long been supporting multi-stakeholder initiatives that have been launched in various sectors for the purpose of devising strategies and monitoring procedures.

  • These include, for example, the Sustainable Cocoa Forum, founded jointly by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the business community and civil society. In the Forum, the Federal Government, together with representatives of civil society, the confectionery industry and the food trade and in cooperation with partner countries, presses for improved production conditions and living standards in cocoa-growing areas and for sustainable cocoa farming.
  • The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, which was initiated by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, has established an obligation to comply with sustainability standards and to guarantee corporate due diligence in the textile and clothing sector. All members of the Partnership are required to pursue its social and environmental objectives. They submit to a review process, which is conducted by an independent third party and is designed to bring about continuous improvement. Individual schedules of measures (road maps) are compiled annually by all members; the first of these is to be produced by the end of January 2017. A robust sanctions regime and regular reporting on the implementation of the road maps will ensure credibility and transparency. The Textile Partnership creates a reference framework and an independent review system of international scope.
  • With support from the Federal Government-funded German Global Compact Network, the “Round Table on Human Rights in Tourism” was launched in 2012. Its aim is to specify the precise requirements of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights for the tourism industry and to develop, in a multi-stakeholder format, solutions to human rights challenges that are specific to tourism.”

Measures

  • “The Federal Government will support the systematic inclusion of sustainability chapters in free-trade agreements, which will prescribe, among other things, compliance with the ILO Core Labour Standards.
  • The Federal Government will publish a study identifying high-risk sectors and regions of particular relevance to the supply and value chains of German business. On the basis of this study, with the Federal Government in a moderating role, sector-specific guides to the exercise of human rights due diligence and examples of best practice will be drawn up in cooperation with the relevant business associations and with the aid of dedicated multi-stakeholder forums.
  • The Federal Government will continue to promote the Vision Zero Fund, which was initiated on the basis of a G7 decision. The Fund is to be administered by the International Labour Organization and will serve to prevent and reduce work-related deaths and serious work-related accidents in global supply chains.
  • Through its development cooperation programme, Germany supports the application of sustainability standards in host countries, for example through the regional project entitled “Social and labour standards in the textile and garment sector in Asia”, which covers three countries – Bangladesh, Cambodia and Pakistan.
  • By means of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, the Federal Government supports a multi-stakeholder initiative combining voluntary and compulsory elements. The Textile Partnership is designed to comply with the UN Guiding Principles. The aim is to have 75% of the German textile and clothing market signed up to the Textile Partnership by 2018. The Partnership should serve as a model for the definition of due diligence requirements in other industries.
  • The “Round Table on Human Rights in Tourism”, a model initiative for the development of a specific sectoral understanding of due diligence with regard to human rights, will receive increased financial support from the Federal Government.”

2.2 Transparency and communication regarding corporate impacts on human rights [page 31]

The current situation

“Through their purchasing decisions, consumers influence the supply of sustainably produced and delivered goods and services. Instruments such as the information platform www.siegelklarheit.de (sustainability standards comparison tool), initiated by the Federal Government, create transparency and help consumers to adopt sustainable purchasing habits.”

Measures

  • “The Federal Government is considering the introduction of a certification mark into German law. The relevant EU legislation already provides for the introduction of a European certification mark and gives Member States the option of introducing a national certification mark in addition. Such a mark could be used, for example, to certify compliance with certain human rights standards in supply and value chains. …”

2.3 Business activity in conflict zones [page 32]

“…In 2011, the OECD published a guide to corporate responsibility along supply chains in which minerals from conflict zones are traded and handled. The guide, entitled OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas, has also been available in German since 2015. …

The European Commission has presented a proposal for a regulation setting up a Union system for supply chain due diligence self-certification of responsible importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating in conflict-affected and high-risk areas. Based on the aforementioned OECD guide, the Commission’s draft regulation would establish a voluntary undertaking to observe due diligence rules within supply chains when importing the minerals referred to above so as to ensure that proceeds from their sale are not used to fund armed struggles in conflict zones or other high-risk areas. The European Parliament, on the other hand, expressed itself in favour of a binding instrument for downstream operators, that is to say along the whole value chain. A basic compromise has now been reached between the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission on a binding instrument focused on the upstream area, i.e. the supply chain. Further details will now have to be negotiated in the context of the trialogue conducted by the EU institutions.”

3. Available means of practical implementation support

Measures [page 36]

“III. Opportunities for training and dialogue

  • In cooperation with business networks, ‘practice days’ for SMEs are offered nationwide. These sessions provide support, information and exchanges with other enterprises on responsible supply chain management and high-quality sustainability reporting. …
  1. Creating a global level playing field
  • In multilateral forums such as the G20, the EU and ASEM and in close cooperation with international organisations such as the ILO, the OECD and the UN, the Federal Government will press for the creation of a global level playing field with regard to terms of competition. To this end, the G7 leaders decision on sustainable supply chains will be further fleshed out with a view to arriving at a common global understanding of due diligence and of sustainable supply chain management.”

4.1 Access to justice and the courts for injured parties

Support for remedy mechanisms in third countries [page 37]

“With regard to potential human rights violations within supply chains, great importance attaches to reinforcement of the rule of law and democracy in the relevant third countries, because that will create conditions for the introduction of effective redress mechanisms in those countries.”

V. Ensuring policy coherence [page 40]

“Implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights will mean pooling the efforts of all stakeholders, creating incentives to improve the human rights situation throughout supply chains and in target countries for investments and preventing serious violations of human rights in the context of business operations. …”

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