The consideration of Human Rights has a high priority within the Foreign Trade and Investment Promotion Scheme of the Federal Republic of Germany. The Federal Government expects the projects benefitting from the instruments of Foreign Trade and Investment Promotion to adhere to relevant environmental, social and Human Rights standards. In their operations companies should observe the established canon of Human Rights. Companies are requested to act in compliance with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (OECD MNE Guidelines) and to act with due diligence as stipulated in the German National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights aimed at implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Thus, the Federal Government sets high standards for the assessment of investment guarantees. In this regard Human Rights impacts that are directly linked to investment projects have long been an important component of the environmental, social and Human Rights due diligence.
Human Rights aspects like the protection of indigenous people, cultural heritage, minorities and vulnerable groups will be assessed within the scope of the due diligence. In addition, the evaluation of occupational health and safety, security, safety and health of the population, legitimacy of land acquisition and resettlement, consultation of the affected population, labour rights (freedom of association, collective bargaining, rights to free movement of workers etc.) and the existence of a grievance mechanism will be considered.
In this regard the reports published by the German National Contact Point for the OECD MNE Guidelines (NCP), the complaints received by the NCP and certain incidents and problems related with a complaint (e.g. non participation of a company) will be taken into consideration when evaluating the eligibility of projects for guarantees. Organizations and individuals can file a complaint with the NCP if they suspect a violation of the OECD MNE Guidelines. The German NCP is located in the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy.
The Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy and the Federal Ministry of Finance together with the ministries responsible for International Human Rights aspects (Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development) decide on a consensual basis, in an Interministerial Committee whether to issue an investment guarantee or not. A guarantee is approved if all Federal departments involved perceive the national and international requirements as being fulfilled.
National Action Plan (NAP)
With the adoption of the National Action Plan (NAP) for Business and Human Rights in December 2016 by the German Federal Government, the existing practice for the consideration of Human Rights is further developed and supplemented with the following measures:
- The Federal Government will ensure that Human Rights, which have hitherto been an element of the environmental and social impact assessment, are given more specific consideration and a higher profile in assessment procedures. To the extent necessary, the current assessment process will be supplemented by a project-related Human Rights Due Diligence.
- A reference to the high priority of Human Rights aspects as well as to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises will be included within the application form.
- The NCP’s role as a grievance mechanism will be strengthened. The German Federal Government reserves the right to exclude the companies that do not participate in the conciliatory proceedings of the NCP from the investment guarantees.