BEERG: Plan for German Supply Chain Law Stirs Debate Over Human Rights

July 24, 2020

A plan to propose a supply chain due diligence law in Germany has generated heated debate over how to manage global supply chains, including what human rights standards to set and who is responsible for enforcing them.

“The exploitation of people, nature and child labour must not become the basis of the global economy and our prosperity,” said Germany’s minister of economic co-operation and development, Gerd Müller.  “That would be a boomerang that would strike back at us.  Our socio-economic model can be a model for a global economy.” 

Mr. Müller and Germany's Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Hubertus Heil, will propose a law to parliament during its next session in September.  

A recent survey found that only 455 of 2,250 companies gave "valid answers" on their practices, with only half of these meeting due diligence standards set forth by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. 

“One law alone cannot solve these problems,” said Stefan Genth, Secretary-General of the German Retail Federation.  “It would make much more sense to regulate at a European level, not nationally in Germany, and in particular to ensure structures are established in procurement countries, like Bangladesh.  That way, trade unions, for example, can agree on local solutions to their existential problems.”

Read the full BEERG Global Labor Newsletter