This executive summary of the report by Germanwatch and MISEREOR is all about energy – a sector that is inextricably linked to globalisation and is associated time and time again with human rights violations. The study explores the question of whether and to what extent German business and the German Government have implemented the demands of the UN Guiding Principles to date.
As development and human rights organisations we participated intensively in the German government’s consultation process for developing the National Action Plan (NAP) for implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: in the government’s steering committee, in the altogether twelve thematic hearings and in the three plenary conferences. In this context, we expected the government to move away from the failed model of purely voluntary self-commitment and legally require German companies to discharge their human rights responsibilities in their activities and business relationships abroad.
The European Union has taken a positive, but half-hearted, step towards cleaning up Europe’s trade in minerals. EU legislators concluded their negotiations on a new law on so-called ‘conflict minerals’—a Regulation which is meant to ensure that minerals entering the EU do not finance conflict or human rights violations. Certain EU companies will, for the first time, be legally required to take responsibility for their mineral supply chains and to take steps to prevent their trade being linked to conflict or human rights abuses. However, a string of concessions and last-minute loopholes could undermine the Regulation’s impact, as they exempt a large number of companies from the law.
Together with 126 civil society organzations we are calling on the Council to listen not only to the European Parliament, but also to the many activists, investors, civil society, and citizens that have called for a strong and effective EU law. At a minimum, this means a regulation that covers companies that import into the EU minerals in their raw form as well as companies that import products containing these minerals.
The 2015 G7 Summit at Schloss Elmau was ground-breaking in that G7 leaders for the first time discussed such supply chain responsibility. They pledged to promote “responsible supply chains”, and strongly supported the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). The G7 leaders also stressed the need to increase transparency, the identification and prevention of human rights risks, and the strengthening of grievance mechanisms to promote better working conditions, and urged the private sector to implement human rights due diligence. These commitments were made under the leadership of Japan and Germany, as current and preceding G7 chair.
The devastating impacts of the trade in minerals linked to conflict and human rights abuses are well documented. The problem has not gone away.
At the G7 summit in Elmau on 7 and 8 June 2015, the most important and affluent industrial nations will discuss how to facilitate the adoption of a new global climate change treaty. This white paper illuminates key background issues in the run up to the summit. It also identifies three signals that must be sent by the summit to underscore the commitment of industrial nations to preventing catastrophic climate change.
Working in IT-production can entail lethal consequences: workers are often exposed to hazardous chemicals and suffer from a higher cancer risk. Therefore, Germanwatch supports a challenge presented to the electronic industry to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals and to guarantee a better protection of workers and environment.
Over the last few years NGOs have criticized numerous human rights violations in which German corporations were directly or indirectly involved. Blatant violations of human rights are occurring for instance in agriculture, in manufacturing and in the extractive industries. Germanwatch and MISEREOR have documented these cases in a report.
Within the framework of the CorA-Netzwerk für Unternehmensverantwortung (CorA Network for Corporate Accountability) and the Forum Menschenrechte (German Human Rights Forum) Germanwatch together with 28 organisations drafted their expectations from the German Government and the German Bundestag to elaborate an Action Plan for Business and Human Rights.