Guiding Principle 7
Because the risk of gross human rights abuses is heightened in conflictaffected areas, States should help ensure that business enterprises operating in those contexts are not involved with such abuses, including by:
(a) Engaging at the earliest stage possible with business enterprises to help them identify, prevent and mitigate the human rights-related risks of their activities and business relationships;
(b) Providing adequate assistance to business enterprises to assess and address the heightened risks of abuses, paying special attention to both gender-based and sexual violence;
(c) Denying access to public support and services for a business enterprise that is involved with gross human rights abuses and refuses to cooperate in addressing the situation;
(d) Ensuring that their current policies, legislation, regulations and enforcement measures are effective in addressing the risk of business involvement in gross human rights abuses.
Some of the worst human rights abuses involving business occur amid conflict over the control of territory, resources or a Government itself – where the human rights regime cannot be expected to function as intended. Responsible businesses increasingly seek guidance from States about how to avoid contributing to human rights harm in these difficult contexts. Innovative and practical approaches are needed. In particular, it is important to pay attention to the risk of sexual and gender-based violence, which is especially prevalent during times of conflict.
It is important for all States to address issues early before situations on the ground deteriorate. In conflict-affected areas, the “host” State may be unable to protect human rights adequately due to a lack of effective control. Where transnational corporations are involved, their “home” States therefore have roles to play in assisting both those corporations and host States to ensure that businesses are not involved with human rights abuse, while neighboring States can provide important additional support. To achieve greater policy coherence and assist business enterprises adequately in such situations, home States should foster closer cooperation among their development assistance agencies, foreign and trade ministries, and export finance institutions in their capitals and within their embassies, as well as between these agencies and host Government actors; develop early-warning indicators to alert government agencies and business enterprises to problems; and attach appropriate consequences to any failure by enterprises to cooperate in these contexts, including by denying or withdrawing existing public support or services, or where that is not possible, denying their future provision.
States should warn business enterprises of the heightened risk of being involved with gross abuses of human rights in conflict-affected areas. They should review whether their policies, legislation, regulations and enforcement measures effectively address this heightened risk, including through provisions for human rights due diligence by business. Where they identify gaps, States should take appropriate steps to address them. This may include exploring civil, administrative or criminal liability for enterprises domiciled or operating in their territory and/or jurisdiction that commit or contribute to gross human rights abuses. Moreover, States should consider multilateral approaches to prevent and address such acts, as well as support effective collective initiatives.
All these measures are in addition to States’ obligations under international humanitarian law in situations of armed conflict, and under international criminal law.
What National Action Plans say on Guiding Principle 7
In the context of the Action point 22, Encourager la gestion responsable des chaînes d’approvisionnement avec une approche sectorielle [Encourage responsible supply chain management with a sector-wide approach], the NAP explains that different initiatives have been taken in the past to contribute to the respect for human rights in supply chains.
The “OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas” was the first example of a collaborative, multi-stakeholder initiative supported by the OECD for responsible management of mineral supply chains located in conflict areas. The NAP states that the NCP had organized a round table in 2014 with the objective of collecting reactions and questions to the “OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas”. One of the aimed actions will be for the NCP to continue its work of informing and spreading knowledge to Belgian companies on the sustainable management of the supply chains through a sectoral approach.
The Chilean NAP does not have an explicit mention to GP7.
VI. Culture of Human Rights and peace-building in the business sector
Two political agendas working together [page 18]
6.1 The Council to the President for Human Rights, within the following year of this Plan being launched, will encourage business to define and publicly disclose their political commitment to respect human rights.
6.2 The Administrative Department for Social Welfare will strengthen the alliances between the private sector and the Administrative Social Inclusion and Reconciliation sector with a view to eradicate extreme poverty and overcome vulnerability conditions.
6.3 The Unit for Care and Integral Repair for Victims, as the coordinator of the National Care and Integral Repair for Victims (SNARIV), jointly with the Direction of Post-conflict, will develop strategies aiming at getting companies to contribute to the recovery of historical memory for peacebuilding, reconciliation and promotion of human rights and the reconstruction of the fabric of society, wherefore memory and peacebuilding culture initiatives might be created.
6.4 The Council to the President for Human Rights, the Colombian Agency for Reintegration and the Direction of post-conflict will prepare a joint strategy for companies to actively promote major participation of people in the reintegration process into the business field, in the production field, and in the peacebuilding processes.
6.5 The Task Force will encourage enterprises to exchange their experiences in order to better understand the human rights and peacebuilding management.
6.6 The Direction of Post-conflict will hold a public debate on the role and power of business enterprises in peacebuilding.
Pillar I. The State Duty to Protect
Trade in military equipment [pages 18-20]
Implements Principles 5, 6 and 7
Trade in military equipment is one of the riskier sectors from the perspective of human rights. While the manufacture of military equipment and arms is a traditional segment of Czech industry, these are goods that are susceptible to abuse, so they must be subject to regulation. A legislative act establishes procedures for the authorisation of trade, conditions for the granting and use of licences, and general inspections of trade in military equipment, including penalties.
In the Czech Republic, there are two stages to checks on external trade in military equipment. The first stage is authorisation to engage in external trade in military equipment. The authorisation specifies specific items of equipment in which the holder can trade, and lists the countries where trade is permitted. Authorisation is issued by the Ministry of Industry and Trade on the strength of opinions submitted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (encompassing foreign-policy interests, commitments under international treaties and membership of international organisations, including the protection of human rights), the Ministry of the Interior (encompassing public policy, security and protection of the population), and the Ministry of Defence (covering the provision of national defence).
The second stage is the licence for external trade in military equipment, which is required to carry out specific deals. The decision on whether to issue or refuse a licence rests with the Ministry of Industry and Trade, again in response to binding opinions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (other than applications for transfer licenses for EU Member States), the Ministry of the Interior and, where the military equipment is significant, the Ministry of Defence (these opinions cover the same areas as those addressed for authorisation to engage in foreign trade in military equipment).
Checks on the use of exported arms rely, in part, on information in the end-user certificate (EUC). If doubts have arisen or if there are reasons for heightened prudence, the state may reserve the right to conduct a subsequent spot check via its embassy, and/or to make the delivery of military equipment conditional on the presence of state representatives at the destination.
Although this process is consistent with standards within the European Union, it is occasionally castigated on grounds of transparency, the amount of information released by the state, and the timeliness of access to such information. Every year, the Ministry of Industry and Trade publishes an Annual Report on Checks on the Export of Military Equipment, Small Arms for Civilian Use and Dual-use Items and Technology. In view of the sensitivity of this whole issue, these reports are consulted with the National Security Council and are subsequently approved by the Government ahead of publication. The annual reports are relatively lengthy, respect the methodology for drawing up common annual reports of the European Union, and mainly contain summaries and statistics. So much data is processed, and it is so taxing, that these annual reports tend not to be approved by the Government until July of the following year. The EU’s summary annual reports are published with a time lag of more than a year, which has also been criticised.
The Czech Republic also reports regularly to the UN on international transfers of conventional arms, small arms and light weapons. In accordance with Article 13 of the Arms Trade Treaty, the Czech Republic also submits a report to the Treaty Secretariat for the preceding calendar year concerning authorised or actual imports and exports of conventional arms. Information on specific transactions may be reported to the extent permitted by the protection of classified information and trade secrecy. However, non-profit organisations such as Amnesty International continue to criticise the Czech Republic for exporting weapons to “high-risk countries”.
Current state of play:
- Trade in military equipment is regulated beyond the framework of national legislation and at EU level, in particular by Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment. That Common Position defines eight binding criteria for assessment of applications to export military equipment, including the need to consider the risk of potential violations of human rights.
- The Czech Republic participates in a number of international schemes to regulate the arms trade. In particular, it is party to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which provides that if there is a clear risk that the conventional arms to be exported might be used in the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law, export will be denied.
- The Ministry of Industry and Trade publishes annual reports on trade in military equipment. Some information is provided by the Ministry at half-yearly intervals outside of that process.
- The Czech Republic regularly reports to international organisations or within the scope of international control regimes on the basis of binding international treaties.
- Expand the half-yearly overviews issued by the Licensing Administration to include further information releasable in accordance with legislation and Government resolutions.
Coordinator: Ministry of Trade and Industry
Deadline: 30 June 2019
- Hold regular meetings between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the non-governmental sector on issues of transparency and human rights in trade in military equipment.
Coordinators: Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Offer all necessary cooperation and assistance to the Parliamentary Subcommittee on Acquisitions of the Ministry of Defence, Trade in Military Equipment and Innovations of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic so that regular assessments can be carried out of the human rights risks posed by export licences and by military equipment exports that have been made.
Coordinators: Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
State aid, guarantees and subsidies [page 25]
Implements Principles 4 and 7
The Czech Republic supports exporters via the export bank Česká exportní banka, a.s. (CEB) and the export guarantee and insurance corporation Exportní garanční a pojišťovací společnost, a.s. (EGAP). The state has a duty to make sure that this support does not foster violations of human rights.
On 1 January 2004, the OECD Recommendation on Common Approaches on the Environment and Officially Supported Export Credits entered into force. That Recommendation includes a commitment by all Member States not to assist – through their institutions – environmentally harmful projects. In June 2012, the OECD Council adopted the Recommendation on Common Approaches for Officially Supported Export Credits and Environmental and Social Due Diligence, which expands and reinforces the original provisions on the environmental and social aspects of officially supported exports. The new Recommendation establishes simpler, more readily accessible procedure for the categorisation of projects according to their environmental and social impact in the countries where they are to be implemented. The main change is the greater stress on the social impacts of projects and the aspects thereof that have a bearing on human rights in the countries of implementation.
Current state of play:
- In its activities, EGAP abides by the Recommendation of the OECD Council on officially supported export credits.
- CEB and EGAP are subject to the European Union’s sanctioning regimes. State aid will not be granted if it is to be directed towards states or individuals who have been sanctioned by the European Union.
- Aid applicants must submit a detailed environmental impact assessment for a selected export where CEB- and EGAP-backed projects have a larger-scale environmental and social impact.
- Where possible, in subsidy agreements take account of social, environmental and other non-financial indicators and requirements concerning the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s subcontractors.
- Coordinator: All ministries concerned
- Deadline: Running
External policy [pages 27-28]
Implements Principles 7, 9 and 10
The protection of human rights is one of the pillars of the Czech Republic’s foreign policy. The Czech Republic’s foreign policy concept defines three global objectives: security, prosperity and sustainable development, and human dignity, including human rights. It also has two national objectives: a service to the public and the maintenance of the Czech Republic’s reputation. The concept expects the individual objectives to be intertwined. The emphasis placed on human rights is then developed further in the Concept for the Promotional Human Rights and Transition Assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the updated version of which was approved in September 2015.
Embassies also play a key role because they provide businesses with information on the local environment and local business culture, and are also able to provide assistance in those cases where human rights have been violated. Foreign materials are a source of inspiration – numerous European governments have produced manuals for their officials on how to proceed in the promotion of human rights abroad.
Under the common commercial policy, the negotiation of commercial agreements is in the sole competence of the EU. Agreements are negotiated on behalf of the Union by the European Commission, which acts in the name of Member States (they must always mandate it to do so). The European Commission pursues the common commercial policy in furtherance of the principles and objectives of the European Union, i.e. inter alia by promoting democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Subject to the European Commission’s approval, the Czech Republic may negotiate bilateral investment agreements.
Current state of play:
- Human rights are on the agenda when constitutional officials go on foreign trips, including those accompanied by representatives of the business community.
- The Czech Republic is party to a number of international human rights treaties, including a set of International Labour Organisation conventions, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
- The Czech Republic has been a party to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention since 2000, in accordance with which law enforcement agencies prosecute foreign corruption where the perpetrator is a Czech citizen.
- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs already provides enterprises with a wide range of information to help them do business abroad.
- The Czech Republic’s model agreement on the support and protection of foreign investments makes references to internationally acknowledged CSR standards and principles and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
- Encourage the adoption of the Guiding Principles and the production of action plans in other countries.
Coordinator: Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Deadline: Running, with an assessment in 2020
- Provide businesses abroad – through embassies – with advice and assistance to help them navigate the local environment, including the issues of the rule of law, human rights and corruption risks.
Coordinator: Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Deadline: Running, with an assessment in 2020
- Within the European Union, actively participate in the production of opinions in negotiations on international commercial agreements and, in the Czech Republic’s viewpoints, balance the economic nature of those agreements with the objectives of promoting democracy, the rule of law and human rights.
Coordinator: Ministry of Trade and Industry
- In the negotiation of bilateral investment agreements, try to take into account not only economic interests, but also the issues of sustainable development and human rights protection by referencing respect for human rights and for the principles of corporate social responsibility, and/or the principles of sustainable development.
Coordinators: Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Industry and Trade
Appendix 1. Overview of the implementation of the state duty to protect
Status in Denmark (initiatives implemented before the UN ratification of the Guiding Principles) [page 30]
- The Danish development assistance generally contributes to the promotion of human rights in conflict areas. In conflict areas it is often difficult to work closely with the host country, because local authorities do not always have sufficient capacity to monitor and legislate. The Danish efforts in fragile states include support for building institutional framework.
- When Danida signs contracts with companies, it is a requirement that companies live up to Danida’s anti-corruption policy and to the UN Global Compact.
- Danida Business Partnerships provides financial support for the implementation of CSR partnerships and CSR initiatives in a range of Denmark’s partner countries. As part of the approval process, Danida Business Finance analyses potential human rights related risks including local legislation and policies and other CSR issues. Access to finance is based on buyer’s and exporter’s compliance with ILO principles on human and workers’ rights.
- Besides following the government regulations with respect to export promotion, trade policy and political imposed trade sanctions and export controls, the EKF has initiated the development of a model that provides an overview of the business risks that could potentially be related to human rights, labour rights, environment and climate in the countries where EKF is investing. EKF is screening the companies involved in the EKF’s transactions. There has not been any cases involving human rights issues.
Initiatives taken or planned as a dedicated measure to implement the UNGPs (after the UN ratification of the Guiding Principles)
- The Danish Institute of Human Rights will launch a Business Guide to Human Rights in December 2013. The Guide to Human Rights is a free website for companies to identify, assess and address their human rights impacts around the world. It provides country- and sector-specific information about the human rights impacts of businesses, alongside concrete recommendations for preventing and mitigating adverse impacts, as well as maximising positive ones. The Guide to Human Rights emphasises multi-stakeholder engagement and dialogue, and seeks to build the capacity of local Portal partners on human rights and business.
- The Danish Government has provided financial assistance to the OECD Proactive Agenda work which has a specific focus on conflict-affected areas. For more information see http://mneguidelines. oecd.org/proactiveagenda.htm.
1. The state obligation to protect human rights
1.3 Activities in the EU [page 17]
The international interest in raw materials is increasing. Whilst the materials may be used as a resource supporting development, there is also a risk of ambiguities related to the funds received from raw materials and/or the funds being used to support conflicts. The European Commission has made a proposal to establish a due diligence system for the union based on a spontaneous declaration by the responsible importers of certain minerals originating in conflict zones and high-risk areas. The Commission proposal has taken into consideration both the OECD Guidance for mineral purchasing in conflict zones7 as well as the OECD and UN guidelines more generally related to responsible supply chain management. The proposal is currently being discussed on the national level. Finland actively participates in the discussion of the proposal in the Council working group. As for the more general responsible acquisition of raw materials, the new EU accounting directive obliges companies operating in oil, gas, extractive industry and loggers of primary forests to report on the fees paid to governments in connection with the financial statement. The directive is currently being implemented in Finland.
As a follow-up measure, the working group proposes that:
Finland actively participate in the discussion of the proposal for a regulation on conflict minerals and in the discussion for the development of practices for responsible supply chains in the raw material sectors. Principal responsible party: Ministry for Foreign Affairs, continuous activities.
I. The Obligation of the State to Protect Human Rights
15. Economic Sectors and Human Rights
Proposal for Actions No7 [page 34]
All economic sectors:
- Reinforce due diligence, particularly in sectors and countries at risk of human rights abuses.
II.Business Responsibility to Respect Human Rights
Proposal for Action No. 8 [page 41]
- Frances encourages businesses to adhere to the UN Global Compact or other voluntary initiatives such as ISO 26000 or the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, which help spread the UN Guiding Principles.
- The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development issues advice for businesses operating in conflict zones and/or high-risk areas.
2. Challenges in corporate practice
Business activity in conflict zones [pages 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Section 2. Current legislative and regulatory framework
Supply Chain [page 14]
Exploitation or corruption along the supply chain can have major negative reputational impacts for companies and states. The government supports the proposal by the European Commission for an EU Council Regulation which provides for the establishment of an EU-wide system for supply chain due diligence of responsible importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating in conflict-affected and high-risk areas. The main objective of this proposal is to help reduce the financing of armed groups and security forces through mineral proceeds in conflict-affected and high-risk areas by supporting and further promoting responsible sourcing practices of EU companies. Of course, supply chain diligence is not limited to the extractive industries and areas of conflict. Irish expertise has also been commissioned by multi-national corporations and technical cooperation programmes to undertake third party audits in the context of supply chain due diligence on factory standards. The design and implementation of a long-term building inspection and enforcement regime for all buildings in Bangladesh has, for example, been greatly assisted by Irish engineering expertise. Where possible, including through our overseas development assistance, the government will look to support such initiatives.
IV. Government responses
Current Activities and Future Commitments [page 23]
B. Operational Principles
Supporting business respect for human rights in conflict-affected areas
Guiding Principle 7
Italy recognises the importance of respecting human rights especially in conflict-affected areas, whereas the promotion of human rights may yet represent a fundamental mean to guarantee peace and security.
On this basis, Italy can draw on best practices of awareness raising and training activities with regard to conflict minerals, and in particular the gold sector, in line with the OECD due diligence and relevant EU regulation. Furthermore, the Government is involved in the process of elaboration of a EU 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” for a responsible trading strategy from minerals from conflict zones.
- Further promote the knowledge of the OECD due diligence guidance ‘Risk Awareness Tool for Multinational Enterprises in Weak Governance Zones’ and ‘Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas’, encouraging and supporting SMEs to follow as well this guidance tools;
- Include human rights impact of economic activities in the programs and activities of awareness raising and capacity development aimed at the respect of human rights in conflict affected countries and high-risk area to be devised and implemented through specific programmes by the National Agency for International Cooperation;
- Reinforce the action of the Italian Development Cooperation towards gender equality also by supporting women economic empowerment in post conflict countries, in line with the three pillars of the United Nations (peace and security, development, human rights) and the operational and normative framework developed within the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 “Women, Peace and Security”.
The Lithuanian NAP does not contain a reference to GP7.
The Dutch NAP does not contain a reference to GP7.
2. The State duty to protect human rights
2.6 Human rights in conflict areas [page 25]
(…) Companies themselves have a responsibility to identify serious risks connected with areas that have been or are affected by conflict. There is an increasing demand from the business sector for dialogue and cooperation with the public authorities on security, risk assessment and corruption in conflict areas and demanding markets in these areas.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the contact point for companies in matters of security abroad. The dialogue on the risk of gender-based and sexual abuses will be intensified where appropriate. No assistance will be given to companies that are involved in gross human rights violations unless they show a willingness to cooperate on addressing the situation.
Security personnel hired to protect Norwegian interests, whether private or public, pose a potential problem. States that hire private security guards must ensure that these comply with the state’s obligation to protect against human rights violations. The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers are useful guidelines for private business enterprises on how best to ensure their security.
- strengthen the dialogue with the business sector through the missions abroad on the risks associated with human rights violations, security concerns and corruption in conflict areas;
- strengthen project cooperation with the business sector on ethics, security and corruption.
3.2 Responsible business conduct [page 32]
Political unrest and conflict entail a particularly high risk of human rights abuses. Companies that operate in such areas should therefore exercise particular due diligence if they are to avoid becoming involved in such abuses. A typical example is abuses perpetrated by security personnel hired to protect the company. There is also a higher risk of corruption, illegal transactions, sexual abuse and other forms of violence against civilians
The Polish NAP does not contain a reference to GP7.
III. Areas of Actions and Measures
Pillar I. The State Duty to Protect Human Rights
Operational Principles [pages 18-20]
Guiding Principle 7
The measures adopted regarding Guiding Principle 7 are incorporated to the obligations corresponding to the State under International Humanitarian Law in situations of armed conflict and in accordance with International Criminal Law and, in particular, those derived from signing of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. In this context, it should also be noted that Spain is part of the Montreux Document on the relevant legal obligations and good practices of States with regard to the operations of private military and security companies during armed conflicts.
- The Government, through its representations abroad, will inform companies about the risks involved in their business activities and relationships, especially in areas affected by conflicts.
- Within the framework of the implementation of the II National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, the Government will develop tools and action guides directed to companies on how to address the risk of sexual violence and gender violence in conflict situations.
- The Government undertakes to include clauses on respect for human rights when contracting private military and security services in accordance with the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Official Officials (1990), the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials (1979) and the Arms Trade Treaty (2013).
- The Government will promote the application of the OECD Due Diligence Guide for Supply Chains Responsible for Minerals in Conflict or High Risk Areas. 5. The Government will participate in multilateral efforts aimed at improving the prevention, mitigation and remedy of situations in which companies are involved in serious human rights abuse.
Annex: Measures taken
In 2013, the Swedish Government adopted a platform for Swedish action on corporate social responsibility (CSR). The issue of business and human rights has received considerable attention in recent years. The following examples describe some measures already taken in accordance with this policy.
The State as actor [page 21]
The conduct of companies in relation to armed conflicts is highly relevant to respect for human rights. Sweden has proposed sharper formulations in the draft regulation on responsible trade in minerals from conflict areas that is currently being discussed in the EU. In other words, we consider it should be mandatory for importers from particularly problematic countries to obtain certification. Sweden is carrying out awareness-raising activities on this issue and supports the OECD’s work on how companies are to identify risks in the supply chain and avoid trade in conflict minerals (OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas).
5. National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights
5.7 Pillar 1: state duty to protect
5.7.4 Business respect for human rights in conflict-affected areas [page 26]
Guiding Principle 7
Business enterprises operating in conflict-affected areas face a special set of human rights challenges. The federal government assists companies in conducting due diligence in conflict-affected and high-risk areas in a way that takes the local circumstances into account.
The federal government will employ the following policy instruments (PI) to implement Guiding Principle 7:
PI22 Guidelines on human rights due diligence in conflict-affected and high-risk areas
Over the years, the federal government has supported the drafting of a number of guidelines addressing the situation in conflict-affected areas. These include the Guidance on Conflict Sensitive Business Practice for the extractive sector issued by International Alert75, and the Red Flags initiative76. Switzerland also provides financial support for the implementation of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas77. In addition, Switzerland is a member of the multi-stakeholder group managing the implementation, spread and continued development of the Guidance. It is aimed primarily at companies operating in conflict-affected or high-risk areas in the extraction and trading of commodities.
PI23 Advisory and support services provided by Swiss representations abroad
Representations abroad have enormous potential to raise awareness of human rights issues in the corporate sector and to offer country-specific advice. A number of Swiss representations in conflict-affected areas have developed innovative initiatives based on the UNGP – largely on an ad-hoc basis – to promote social responsibility on the part of Swiss business enterprises78. The federal government will involve Switzerland’s representations abroad more closely in its efforts to raise awareness of and provide support for respect for human rights among business enterprises. Among other measures, this will involve training and awareness-raising for embassy staff, better experience-sharing between representations and with the relevant federal agencies in Bern, and more active communication about the representations’ activities.
PI24 Restriction of public services in the event of gross human rights abuses
In the latest change to its ordinance, Swiss Export Risk Insurance (SERV) explicitly included the obligation for insurance applicants to provide information on human rights. SERV does not grant cover, neither can it accept any liability in the event of a claim, if the project being supplied or financed by the policyholder violates international human rights standards.
Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE) has a code of conduct79 aimed at S-GE staff which is intended to ensure that international human rights are respected and staff avoid being complicit in any way in their violation. Should S-GE determine that customers are in breach of the relevant laws or regulations, or are committing human rights abuses, it will refuse mandates or withdraw from existing ones.
PI 25 Regulations on transparency and due diligence concerning minerals from conflict-affected areas
The introduction of transparency regulations for minerals from conflict-affected areas is a policy instrument that a number of OECD states have either already adopted or are seriously considering. The Federal Council is tracking international developments towards transparency and due diligence concerning minerals from conflict-affected areas, especially in the EU, and is observing their impact on the Swiss economy. If the EU were to introduce a certification system and/or disclosure obligations for companies, the Federal Council will consider putting forward appropriate proposals for a Swiss solution congruent with EU action.
PI26 Economic sanctions
The Federal Act on the Implementation of International Sanctions80 forms the basis on which Switzerland is able to adopt non-military sanctions imposed by the UN, the OSCE and Switzerland’s major trading partners in the interests of compliance with international law and respect for human rights. The Embargo Act itself does not contain any specific sanctions, but rather provides a legal framework that authorises the Federal Council to issue ordinances on the imposition of sanctions.
For example, the Ordinance on the International Trade in Rough Diamonds of 29 November 200281, which was issued on the basis of the Embargo Act, implements in Switzerland the provisions of the Kimberley Process, which addresses the trade in diamonds from conflict-affected areas.
The Federal Council regards the legal framework for the imposition of sanctions as sufficient. It continuously monitors the decisions of the UN, OSCE and key trading partners, and decides on a case-by-case basis on appropriate action.
The UK 2013 NAP
The State’s Duty to Protect Human Rights
The existing UK legal and policy framework
(v) taken account of business activity in conflict and fragile states, or countries with high levels of criminal violence, within the Building Stability Overseas Strategy. Companies operating in these difficult environments have an important role to play in contributing to stability, growth, development, prosperity and the protection of human rights. We support the implementation of the OECD Risk Awareness Tool for Multinational Enterprises in Weak Governance Zones. We will also continue to help develop, and monitor implementation of, OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict Affected and High-Risk Areas. The Government will also continue to encourage higher standards in the diamond supply chain.
The UK 2016 updated NAP
2. The State’s Duty to Protect Human Rights [page 8]
16. The Government exercises controls on the export of “strategic” goods and technology through the export licensing system. All export licence applications are rigorously assessed against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. These assessments take full account of possible human rights impacts; a licence would not be granted if we judge there is a clear risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression.
17. To give effect to the UN Guiding Principles, the Government has: (…)
(iii) taken account of business activity in conflict and fragile states, or countries with high levels of criminal violence, within the Building Stability Overseas Strategy. Companies operating in these difficult environments have an important role to play in contributing to stability, growth, development, prosperity and the protection of human rights. We support the implementation of the OECD Risk Awareness Tool for Multinational Enterprises in Weak Governance Zones. We will continue to promote implementation of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict Affected and High-Risk Areas. The Government will also work with EU partners and other like-minded countries to deliver increased effectiveness of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and higher standards of responsible sourcing in the global diamond supply chain.
(iv) in March 2015 the Government concluded its chairmanship of the Voluntary Principles Initiative. During our chairmanship we worked to raise awareness of the VPI in priority countries for membership, to support UK oil, gas and mining companies to use the VPs to manage security and human rights risks more effectively, and encouraged greater openness by companies in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. More detail on our chairmanship year can be found in our 2014 annual report.
(v) in 2015, the ISO 28007 maritime standard and ISO 18788 land standard for Private Security Companies were published. The UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) conducted a pilot certification process and has issued guidance for certifying bodies for ISO28007, including on human rights. UKAS will also issue guidance on ISO18788.
Facilitating RBC by Companies [page 17]
“(…) Given the heightened risk of serious human rights impacts in conflict-affected areas, the U.S. government particularly encourages corporate due diligence and reporting under such circumstances.”
The National Action Plan
Leading by example
Outcome 1.3: Leverage US Government Purchasing Power to Promote High Standards [page 10]
Ongoing commitments and initiatives
State and Department of Defense (DOD) Contracting with Private Security Providers: DOD requires private security companies (PSCs) with which it contracts to demonstrate conformance with standards consistent with the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (ICOC), a set of human rights and humanitarian principles agreed upon by certain states, PSCs, and NGOs. Similarly, State requires PSCs servicing its Worldwide Protective Services II contract to confirm their conformance with the same standards and has incorporated membership-in-good-standing in the ICOC Association as a requirement for bidding on that contract. State will also review if and how such approaches may be applied to their local guard force contracts. Implementing Department or Agency: State, DOD
“Prohibition of Acquisition of Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labor,” (E.O. 13126), signed on June 12, 1999 and in effect since 2001, is intended to ensure that U.S. federal agencies do not procure goods made by forced or indentured child labor. The U.S. government will seek to review the status and effectiveness of implementation of these requirements and take steps to improve implementation, as feasible and appropriate. Implementing Department or Agency: DOL
Annex II. Key domestic executive orders and regulatory efforts [page 26]
“Establishing Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors” (E.O. 13706) and an implementing rule require certain employers that contract with the Federal Government to provide their employees with up to seven days of paid sick leave annually, including for family care and absences resulting from domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.