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Germany

The German NAP contains a section on conflict-affected areas:

2.3 Business activity in conflict zones [page 32-33]

“The UN Guiding Principles attach particular priority to assisting enterprises in respecting human rights in areas torn by conflicts. One characteristic of such areas is an especially high risk of serious human rights violations resulting from the frequent total absence of state structures. The Federal Government therefore considers that it has a responsibility to try to ensure that German enterprises operating in such conditions have no part in any adverse impacts on human rights. Enterprises operating in these conditions are to be supported whenever they are able, through their investments and business activities, to contribute to the stabilisation and development of such areas. In fragile or war-torn countries, there is often a danger that trade in raw materials is cornered by destabilising players, who will use it for their own ends and thereby fuel existing conflicts. Importance therefore attaches not only to international commodity diplomacy but also to local contributions in cases where specific interests are affected by the exploitation of raw materials.”

The current situation

“An important contribution to these efforts is being made by the deliberations, which Germany is backing, on what are known as ‘conflict minerals’, an intense discussion being conducted within both the OECD and EU frameworks. 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 primary aim of the Guidance is to curb the funding of armed conflicts from the proceeds of trade in raw materials; in addition, compliance with its recommendations would help to prevent serious human rights violations, especially child labour.

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.

In the quest for targeted improvements in the protection of human rights, the Federal Government is sponsoring a research project that is being conducted by the German Institute for Human Rights. Through the project, selected national human rights institutions in countries with which Germany engages in development cooperation are strengthened in their work in the raw materials sector. In the framework of technical cooperation, human rights analyses are being conducted in the Andean countries. Human Rights Risks in Mining – A Baseline Study, presented by the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources at the beginning of 2016, contains an in-depth analysis of the impact of mining on human rights. In addition, the Federal Government is promoting conflict-sensitive management of natural resources, particularly in Africa (Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo), in a project in which representatives of government, the private sector, civil society and affected populations are brought together in a dialogue with a view to reconciling their diverse interests in a participative and conflict-sensitive framework.”

Measures

  • “The Federal Government is pursuing the aim of preventing the use of proceeds from the sale of tin, tantalum and tungsten, of their respective ores and of gold to fund armed struggles in conflict zones and other high-risk areas. It is committed to the establishment of binding due diligence rules, which should be proportionate and should not entail unnecessary red tape, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises.”
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