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Business and Human Rights

25.04.2019 - Article

Safety and health at work, living wages, the right to freedom of association or the prohibition of child and forced labor, the protection of indigenous peoples' rights and the protection of the environment are just a few examples for human rights´standards. Through the introduction of NAP, core elements of human rights due diligence will be incorporated into the business processes of German companies all over the world.

What is the NAP?

NAP stands for “National Action Plan for the Economy and Human Rights of the Federal Government of Germany” and anchors responsibilities of German companies for the protection of human rights within a fixed framework laid down by globally uniform and verifiable standards .
On 21 December 2016, the Federal Cabinet adopted the NAP. It describes, on the one hand, a broad catalogue of measures by the Federal Government in order to meet the duty of the state to better protect human rights, especially in an economic context. On the other hand, the Federal Government, for the first time, anchors, in the action plan, the responsibility of German companies to conduct human rights due diligence and respect human rights along their supply and value chains.
By adopting/introducing the NAP, the Federal  Government  aims to make a contribution towards improving the global human rights situation and give globalization a social dimension in accordance with  the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. By establishing  reliable framework conditions and parameters for German companies,  the Federal Government hopes to achieve a level global playing field.
In its National Action Plan, the Federal Government uses the Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights of the United Nations, which were unanimously adopted by the Human Rights Council in 2011. The Federal Government will actively promote and continuously support and assist German companies to establish the process of corporate due diligence as described in the NAP.

More information on NAP

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Everybody talks about the Monitoring process – what exactly is that?

Within the scope of a monitoring process being carried out between 2018 and 2020, the German Government is reviewing to what extent companies based in Germany are meeting their due diligence obligations anchored in the NAP. The first interim report is now available.
The objective of the NAP monitoring is to determine whether at least half of all companies in Germany with more than 500 employees to will have integrated the core elements of human rights due diligence into their business processes in a verifiable manner by 2020.
In autumn 2018, interviews were carried out with 30 businesses in the exploratory phase. At this stage, producing representative statistics was not the aim. There were also talks with nine representatives of stakeholder groups, that is, social partners, business associations and non-governmental organisations. The Inception Report drawn up in September 2018 served as the basis for work during this phase. The interviews yielded valuable findings and the business interviews in 2019 and 2020 will provide an opportunity to delve deeper. The first Interim Report on NAP monitoring presented in July 2019 outlined the findings and the methodology for the quantitative surveys.
The auditing firm Ernst & Young, which won the contract in an EU-wide tender in May 2018, carries out the surveys. Ernst & Young is leading a consortium which also comprises Systain Consulting, Adelphi consult and Focusright.
On 29 July 2019, some 1800 businesses received a letter via email, in which the contractor Ernst & Young asked them on behalf of the German Government to take part in the 2019 survey. The companies are requested to submit the completed online questionnaire by 1 October 2019. Useful findings about NAP implementation can only be gained if the companies provide substantial information during the monitoring process.
From 2020 onwards, the findings of the monitoring process will form the basis for the German Government’s decision on further steps in the field of business and human rights. These steps can include legislative measures.
Further information on the NAP monitoring process is available in a comprehensive catalogue of the main questions on NAP monitoring drawn up by the Federal Foreign Office and the implementation consortium

How will German Missions in India assist German companies in implementing the NAP?

The German Missions in India are looking to set up network structures to provide advisory, information and orientation services to German companies in India to fulfil human rights due diligence requirements.  The ‘network’ will include organizations and institutions like the German diplomatic representations in India, the Chamber of Commerce, GTAI, GIZ and KfW,  that have a direct connection to German bodies involved in the implementation of the NAP. The ‘network’ will occasionally invite local non-governmental specialists to provide relevant information and be the driving force at network meetings.

What will the NAP-network offer locally?

  • Advice and information on the NAP
  • Human rights situation and legislation in the host country
  • On-site information and training services on the NAP and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (VNLP)
  • Explanations on support offers
  • Dialogplattformen zwischen Unternehmen (“peer learning”)
  • Dialogue platforms between companies (“peer learning”)

You can already find some information offers here .

Further Information on the NAP, its development, implementation and monitoring can be found on the website of the Federal Foreign Office:
https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/de/aussenpolitik/themen/aussenwirtschaft/wirtschaft-und-menschenrechte
and with the central information desk of the federal government on the
https://www.csr-in-deutschland.de/DE/Wirtschaft-Menschenrechte/wirtschaft-menschenrechte.html;jsessionid=41FDCEA9AF685ED10EED50E0A6A62FAB

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