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Federal Government expectations

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The Federal Government expects all enterprises to introduce guidelines and processes to fulfil their human rights due diligence obligations - in Germany and in their operations abroad.

When designing and implementing their due diligence processes in the area of human rights, consideration should be given to the beneficial effects of corporate activity and the different perspectives of the company’s employees, relevant stakeholders and others who may be affected. In large enterprises, these include the human resources, purchasing, compliance and sales departments. From outside the enterprise, suppliers, customers and trade unions as well as bodies from civil society, business organisations and governments should be involved. Particular attention should be directed to the rights of their respective employees and to those of local populations who may be affected.

Enterprises should strive, wherever possible, to inspect the work of their suppliers and their subcontractors in order to achieve the best possible transparency with respect to production, working and environmental conditions, to identify risks and to develop solutions.

When enterprises operate in countries where legal principles are insufficiently enforced or not enforced at all due to, for example, a lack of legislation or controls, enterprises have particular responsibility for respecting human rights in their area of activity. Here, too, they should take measures to prevent potential human rights violations and redress the human rights violations that they caused.

It should be possible for any given enterprise to incorporate its human rights due diligence obligations into its existing processes in an appropriate manner without creating undue bureaucratic burdens. The scope of the measures to be taken should depend on the size of the enterprise, the nature of its products or services, the potential risk of particularly adverse impacts on human rights and the enterprise's operating context.

When implementing the National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights, the Federal Government set up additional advisory and support services. Small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular, are called upon to make use of these services.

Furthermore, multi-stakeholder initiatives involving enterprises, the government, civil society and the trade unions exist in various sectors. They offer an added value especially when enterprises are confronted with challenges that are too big or complex to tackle them on their own. Joint initiatives with other enterprises may increase the scope and efficiency of activities, pool resources and work together to reach objectives. They serve as platforms for an exchange of experience, provide orientation and prepare potential solutions to effectively improve environmental and social standards. The Federal Government has supported multi-stakeholder initiatives in various sectors for a long time. As provided for in the NAP, this has helped enterprises to implement human rights due diligence in a sector-specific way and commensurate with their size and position in the supply chain. Further information on various multi-stakeholder initiatives of the Federal Government can be found here (in German).


The Federal Government has compiled answers to frequently asked questions on the implementation of the National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights (NAP). The FAQ is continuously expanded and updated. Currently it is only available in German.