Schweikert, V. The Supply Chain Obligations Act – Opportunities and challenges

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Vanessa Schweikert

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Research for the Future Society, No. V002, from the vunk publication series

We consume fruit from South Africa, chocolate from the Ivory Coast, coffee from Brazil and wear clothes made in Asia. The conditions, under which these consumer goods are being manufactured, are hardly called into question. There is often a lack of awareness that every step in the supply chain is executed by a human work force. People do not work under fair conditions everywhere in the world. For example, a study by the International Labor Organization (ILO) revealed that almost 25 million people worldwide are exploited in forced labor and slavery, and almost one in ten children is a victim of child labor.

In recent years and with greater awareness of the need for transparency in supply chains, the pressure on companies to respect human rights has increased. Particularly critical industries, such as the textile industry, have come under public scrutiny for their disastrous working conditions.

The protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms is fundamentally the duty of the state. However, companies are increasingly being held accountable. In 2016, the German federal government adopted the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP). With the NAP, the German government is pursuing the goal of implementing the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in national law. With the NAP, it initially relied on voluntary compliance with human rights due diligence obligations by companies.­­­

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