The Federal Government has commenced work to draw up a National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights. The action plan aims to apply the guiding principles of the United Nations for business and human rights for the activities of German companies nationally as well as globally in their value and supply chains.
The UN guiding principles are an important point of reference for responsibility in the area of human rights in our globalised economy. They were elaborated during a six‑year research and consultation process under the direction of UN Special Representative John Ruggie. Germany is one of the principal backers of this process.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the following:
Not only governments, but also companies must take responsibility for human rights in their global business activities. What is profitable for some should not harm anyone else. We intend to create a framework for this with the National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights. Our aim is that we all, the Federal Government as well as civil society, academia and enterprises, critically examine our behaviour and become active when we identify areas in need of improvement.
Federal Foreign Office spearheading the project
By creating a national action plan, the Federal Government will be making a contribution to realising these guiding principles with the participation of all sections of society. The arrangement in the coalition agreement stipulating that the UN guiding principles be met at national level is therefore being fulfilled.
With the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, Christoph Strässer, the Federal Foreign Office is spearheading the Federal Government’s national action plan. In addition to the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, the Federal Environment Ministry and the Federal Economic Affairs Ministry are also taking part.
Broad‑based dialogue with all sections of society
The national action plan was launched at an opening conference on 6 November 2014 at the Federal Foreign Office. The action plan will be drawn up in a close consultation process, scheduled to last for two years, with representatives from the worlds of politics and business, as well as from trade unions, civil society, associations and academia. The aim is to achieve the broadest possible support from society for the Federal Government’s national action plan.
The action plan is to be adopted by the Federal Cabinet in 2016, i.e. in the current legislative term. By drawing up a meaningful and effective national action plan, the Federal Government intends to highlight the commitment of Germany both within the EU and in the Human Rights Council of the United Nations.