New impetus for business and human rights

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06.07.2020 - Article

On 7 July 2020, Minister of State Niels Annen will host a virtual conference to mark the start of an initiative to improve implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The goal is to further improve respect for human rights in supply chains.

The COVID‑19 crisis is posing major challenges for global business and the international community, revealing social, economic and ecological problems. The pandemic is also a global stress test for enterprises and their supply chains, posing the question of how employees can be protected and business relations managed responsibly. It is also increasing the importance of dovetailing business and human rights for the resilience of the entrepreneurial world and the economy as a whole in the face of crises.

A decade of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

2021 marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Time to take stock. What has been achieved? Where are the problems? How can the process be developed further?

The Federal Foreign Office is supporting a one-year series of regional conferences in cooperation with the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights. Representatives from all areas are involved: human rights activists, unions, employers and international organisations such as the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). A virtual conference on 7 July 2020 will mark the start of this initiative. Minister of State Niels Annen will discuss the status of global implementation of the Guiding Principles with EU Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders and a large number of international stakeholders from science, business and civil society. Former UN Special Representative John Ruggie, who coordinated the drafting of the Guiding Principles, will also participate in the conference.

How is Germany implementing the Guiding Principles?

Germany has been implementing the UN Guiding Principles since 2016 through the National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights (NAP). A key element is a large-scale company survey on human rights engagement. The results of the second NAP monitoring process will be published this summer. On the basis of these, the Federal Government will in turn examine whether legislation will be necessary in future.


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