What is due diligence in human rights?
Companies and their supply chains are increasingly complex and dynamic. While these characteristics allow greater speed and adaptation to the needs of the markets, they also carry risks such as the violation of basic human rights of workers.
Due diligence in human rights corresponds to the actions that companies take to identify these risks, act on them and prevent potential human rights abuses.
What has been done about it?
In 2011, the United Nations created the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, introducing a key element, the due diligence on human rights, following the framework “protect, respect and remedy”.
Some countries have adopted specific legislative measures in this regard:
- UK and Australia – Modern Slavery Legislation
- California – Transparency in Supply Chains Act
- France – Duty of Vigilance Law
- Germany – Mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence Act
What is the European Union doing about it?
At this time, the European Union is debating the mandatory law implementation proposal. This is in the final phase of public participation with more than 100 contributions from various organizations around the world. The expectations are to have a law approved in June 2021 and transfer it to each country to transform it into legislation.
This due diligence process will also influence environmental aspects through the European Green Deal.
Legal ramifications from the due diligence process from environmental and human rights aspects will have repercussions in the updated negotiation and reformulation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) including social and environmental conditioning factors that are yet to be determined.
Who is affected?
Due diligence in human rights affects all the actors that are part of the supply chain at the commercial level and also the interest groups related to this supply chain, such as governments or third sector organizations.
In particular, this law will affect all companies and will require them to have a control system by which they can identify, prevent and mitigate adverse impacts on human rights and environmental impacts in their value chains (wherever they are).