III. The State duty to protect human rights
B. Actions taken
- Promotion of international exchange and cooperation (page 6)
‘[…] In addition, Taiwan has inserted “CSR clauses,” “investment/environment/labor clauses,” and “general exceptions” into previously signed trade and investment agreements, so our government has taken concrete actions to safeguard human rights.’
This information is also covered under Appendix 4: Overview of the implementation of the state duty to protect and the access to remedy, The state duty to protect, UNGP9, Actions taken (page 49).
- Promoting human rights through government procurement operations (page 8)
… Taiwan has implemented regulations that include such measures, including the “Government Procurement Act,” “Resource Recycling Act,” “Statute for Industrial Innovation,” “Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act,” and “Indigenous Peoples Employment Rights Protection Act.” All these acts prohibit discrimination, encourage green purchasing, and promote environmental protection.’
This information is also covered under Appendix 4: Overview of the implementation of the state duty to protect and the access to remedy, The state duty to protect, UNGP6, Actions taken (page 45).
C. Actions planned
- Continue committing to implement important United Nations human rights covenants, incorporating them into domestic law, and preparing national reports for review (page 9)
‘[…] Besides continuing to assess the feasibility of incorporating the core UN humans rights conventions into domestic law, our government will also continue to study ways to promote the implementation of labor and environmental conventions as they pertain to human rights.’
This information is also covered under Appendix 4: Overview of the implementation of the state duty to protect and the access to remedy, The state duty to protect, UNGP10, Actions planned (pages 52-53).
- Administrative measures for outbound investment (page 10)
‘The Taiwan government will continue, on the basis of UNGPs, to initiate discussions regarding the issue of administrative measures for outbound investment as applied to business and human rights, and will also set up an inter-ministerial coordination mechanism at the central government level to study actions taken by other nations, and to discuss the necessity and feasibility of enacting legislation that has binding force overseas in specified fields such as […] environmental preservation in a company’s overseas investment activities.’
This information is also covered under Appendix 4: Overview of the implementation of the state duty to protect and the access to remedy, The state duty to protect, UNGP7, Actions planned (pages 46-47).
IV. The corporate responsibility to respect human rights
B. Actions taken
- State encouragement of respect by businesses for human rights (page 11)
‘The Taiwan government also provides resources and support, including the following: […] it has launched a Green Finance Action Plan that identifies green energy technology and other key industries as top-priority recipients of financial institution support so that they can spur the achievement of energy conservation and carbon reduction targets and environmental protection goals.’
- Greater information transparency (page 13)
‘Since 2014, the Taiwan government has used legislation to require listed companies matching a certain description to prepare a CSR report each year, and as of 2020 our government […] has included environmental, climate change, social, and corporate governance matters in its disclosure requirements in order to ensure that the key performance indicators in non-financial disclosures are more closely linked to the way a company is managed.’
This information is also covered under Appendix 4: Overview of the implementation of the state duty to protect and the access to remedy, The state duty to protect, UNGP3, Actions taken (page 41).
C. Actions planned
- Advocate for disclosure of non-financial information (page 14)
‘In addition to studying the feasibility of expanding the range of businesses subject to a compulsory requirement to prepare CSR reports, the Taiwan government will also advocate for disclosure by businesses of non-financial information (related issues will include important environmental, social, and governance (ESG) topics — such as the use of Consumer information, the use of energy, waste handling, labor conditions, environmental protection, forced evictions, indigenous land rights, gender equality, and consumer protection measures — all of which are matters of concern to stakeholders). The goal of such a policy would be to ensure that businesses understand that the disclosure of non-financial information can make up for the shortcomings of financial information, thus enabling businesses to effectively identify and manage risks. This would facilitate the formulation of better business policies, and contribute to the achievement of forward-looking objectives, thus enabling the adoption of sustainable business practices.’
This information is also covered under under Appendix 4: Overview of the implementation of the state duty to protect and the access to remedy, The state duty to protect, UNGP3, Actions planned (page 43).
V. Access to remedy
B. Actions taken
- Judicial remedy
Collective remedy and citizen lawsuits (page 17)
‘[…] the “Basic Environment Act,” “Environmental Impact Assessment Act,” “Air Pollution Control Act,” “Waste Disposal Act,” “Soil and Groundwater Pollution Remediation Act,” “Water Pollution Control Act,” and “Toxic and Concerned Chemical Substances Control Act” all include provisions that allow for citizen suits. When a public or private entity violates the law and the competent authority is negligent in enforcement, victims or public interest groups may notify the competent authority in writing, and if the competent authority continues to ignore the violation, the victims or public interest groups may file a lawsuit with an administrative court.’
This information is also covered under Appendix 3: Concrete actions taken by Taiwan to provide effective remedy systems, Collective remedy and citizen lawsuits (pages 35-36) and Appendix 4: Overview of the implementation of the state duty to protect and the access to remedy, Access to remedy, UNGP26, Actions taken (page 55).
C. Actions planned
- Strengthening of extraterritorial jurisdiction (page 20)
Cross-border litigation occasionally arises due to: (a) human rights violations or environmental destruction caused in Taiwan by foreign multinational corporations engaged in business activities in Taiwan; or (b) human rights violations or environmental destruction caused overseas by Taiwanese corporations (or by multinational corporations controlled by a Taiwanese corporation) engaged in business activities overseas. With respect to such litigation, our government needs to conduct research on how to provide victims with effective remedy channels. The scope of such research should include, without limitation, the following:
- Study how to enact rules governing Taiwan’s jurisdiction over cross-border litigation, including litigation filed in Taiwan by foreign nationals not domiciled in Taiwan (but note that, in doing so, we must act in line with the principles of substantive fairness, jurisprudence, and procedural economy).
- Study the legality and feasibility of using measures other than fines to deal with the corporate criminal liability of Taiwanese and multinational corporations.
- Multinational corporations often use overseas duty-free countries to establish subsidiaries, so we need to study whether the parent companies of multinational corporations are required to bear joint and several liability for indemnification of aggrieved parties when subsidiaries infringe upon the rights of other parties.
- Cross-border actions for damages are sometimes filed in connection with environmental destruction caused overseas by multinational corporations, so we need to study whether there is a need to amend related laws and regulations (e.g. environmental protection legislation) to provide for an extended period of prescription
This information is also covered under Appendix 4: Overview of the implementation of the state duty to protect and the access to remedy, Access to remedy, UNGP25, Actions planned (page 54).
Appendix 1: Concrete actions taken by Taiwan to fulfill the state obligation to protect
- Government procurement (pages 24-25)
‘Article 26-1 of the “Government Procurement Act” stipulates that an entity may prescribe technical specifications in accordance with Article 26 to promote the conservation of natural resources and protection of environment, and adopt related measures to save energy, save resources, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Increases in project expenditures or technical service fees, if any, shall be incorporated into the project budget for approval when preparing the technical specifications or measures.’
Article 96 of the “Government Procurement Act” stipulates that an entity may provide in tender documentation that preference shall be given to a product with the government-recognized Green Mark.
Article 22 of The “Resource Recycling Act” stipulates that all Taiwan government agencies, public schools, public enterprises and organizations, and military authorities shall preferentially procure government-recognized environmentally preferable products, and that 25 the central competent authority and all industry-specific authorities shall perform promotion activities for environmentally preferable products.
Article 27, paragraph 1 of the “Statute for Industrial Innovation” stipulates that central government authorities shall encourage government agencies/organizations and enterprises to purchase green products and services.
Article 25 of the “Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act” stipulates that all levels of government, public education institutions, and government-run enterprises shall promote energy saving and use energy-efficient products or services to reduce GHG emissions.’
- Promotion of corporate social responsibility (pages 26-27)
‘The government may incorporate legally binding non-financial reporting requirements to ensure that companies conduct human rights due diligence. Article 10, subsection 4, item E of the “Regulations Governing 27 Information to be Published in Annual Reports of Public Companies” provides that corporate governance reports shall address CSR elements, such as environmental protection, community participation, social contribution, social services & welfare, consumer rights, human rights, and health & safety.’
‘To strengthen corporate governance, the TWSE and the TPEx have issued several codes of best practice, including the following: “Corporate Social Responsibility Best Practice Principles for TWSE/GTSM Listed Companies”: Listed companies are expected to implement CSR measures to manage their economic and environmental risks and impacts.’
- Promotion of international consensus and cooperation (page 28)
‘Taiwan has an export-driven economy. […] In this overall context, international trade should be promoted in a friendly and constructive manner. This includes promoting the incorporation of environmental, social responsibility, and human rights standards into free trade agreements, as well as designing impact assessment and monitoring mechanisms.
In line with this, Taiwan has included CSR, environmental, and worker rights clauses, as well as “general exceptions,” in many of its trade and investment agreements, such as the following:
[…] Inclusion of “investment/environment/labor” clauses: Host states shall not attract investment by relaxing health, safety, or environmental protections, or by lowering labor standards. At present, Taiwan has several free trade agreements (FTAs) with such clauses, including Article 10.15 of the Taiwan-Guatemala FTA, Article 10.11 of the Taiwan-Nicaragua FTA, Article 10.16 of the Taiwan-El Salvador-Honduras FTA, Article 24 of the Taiwan -Japan BIA, and Article 12.16 of the Taiwan-New Zealand FTA.’
- Other legislative action and measures (page 30)
‘The Environmental Protection Administration, acting in accordance with Article 7 of the “Air Pollution Protection Act,” proposed an “Air Pollution Control Plan (2020–2023),” and it was approved by the Executive Yuan on 22 May 2020. The annual air quality target set out in the Plan calls for a nationwide average PM2.5 concentration of 15µg/m3. It also focuses on the need to reduce emissions of ozone and volatile organic compounds, requires that restrictions be applied with greater breadth and rigor, and distinguishes between stationary, mobile, and fugitive sources of pollution. In total, the Plan comprises 27 specific measures that address the air pollution problem on four different fronts.’
Appendix 2: Concrete actions taken by Taiwan to ensure respect by businesses for human rights
- Governments can provide information and support to enterprises. The Taiwan government has implemented several regulations and measures to provide enterprises with guidance and support, including the following: (pages 31-32)
‘Chapter 4 of the “Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act” sets out educational, outreach, and reward mechanisms related to greenhouse gas reduction. Government agencies at all levels are required to promote industry awareness of the need for mitigation of the impact of global climate change and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to promoting carbon footprint monitoring systems, the Executive Yuan’s Environmental Protection Agency issued the “Regulations Governing Incentives for Low-Carbon Products” in July 2017 on the authority of Article 27, paragraph 2 of the “Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act.” These new Regulations provide companies with more incentives to affix their products with carbon footprint marks and carbon footprint reduction marks.
Article 26 of the “Statute for Industrial Innovation” provides as follows:
To encourage the sustainable development of industries, the central authorities in charge of relevant enterprises may provide enterprises with grants or guidance to promote the following matters: (a) Assisting enterprises in adapting to international regulations for environmental protection and health and safety. (b) Promoting the development and application of technology relating to greenhouse gas reduction and pollution prevention. (c) Encouraging enterprises to improve the efficiency of their energy and resource consumption and to adopt relevant technologies that may recycle/renew energy/resources and save energy and water. (d) Production of non-toxic, less-polluting products and other products that reduce the burden on the environment.
[…] Article 28 of the “Statute for Industrial Innovation” provides that “to encourage enterprises to fulfill their social responsibility, the central authorities in charge of relevant enterprises shall assist enterprises to actively disclose the relevant environmental information regarding their production processes, products, services, and other aspects of sustainable development, and the enterprises with outstanding performance may be eligible to receive commendations or awards.”
On November 6, 2017, the Executive Yuan approved the “Green Finance Action Plan” proposed by the Financial Supervisory Commission. This Plan encourages banks to adopt the Equator Principles (EPs) for international benchmarking. The EPs provide a risk management framework for assessing and managing the environmental and social risks of projects.’
In order to strengthen enterprises’ CSR implementation and enhance human rights awareness, the Taiwanese government and civil society have implemented a number of support measures, including the following:
‘[…] The Taiwan Institute for Sustainable Energy has launched the Taiwan Sustainability Value Index (TWSVI). The TWSVI uses economic, environmental, social, disclosure, and sustainability evaluations to select company stocks that have both financial and long-term sustainability value.
The Taiwan Institute for Sustainable Energy cooperates with the government to develop renewable energy, strengthen the promotion of green finance and sustainable finance, and help enterprises to comply with the “Principles for Responsible Banking” and the recommendations of the “Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.”
[…] to promote the development of a sustainable investment environment, TWSE subsidiary Taiwan Index Plus Corporation and FTSE Russell jointly released the “FTSE4Good TIP Taiwan ESG Index,” the first ESG index that fully integrates environmental, social, corporate governance, and financial indicators in Taiwan.
[…] Industry associations and companies also voluntarily propose or follow many relevant international standards, including the following: In order to ensure CSR implementation in the financial industry, the Bankers Association of the ROC in 2014 adopted credit guidelines with reference to the spirit of the “Equator Principles,” addressing such matters as environmental protection, ethical business practices, and social responsibility.’
Appendix 4: Overview of the implementation of the state duty to protect and the access to remedy
The State duty to protect
Actions planned (page 40)
‘The Taiwan government has pledged to […] [c]ontinue, on the basis of UNGPs, to initiate discussions […] [focusing] on monitoring and study of domestic human rights incidents that have occurred in recent years, and the results of this effort will serve as reference for future legislative amendments.’