19 Feb 2024

Walk Free urges Germany and EU states to stop human rights abuses in supply chains

Walk Free is calling on Germany and all EU member states to support the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) to prevent modern slavery, and drive respect for human rights and better environmental practices.

Photo Credit: Dušan Cvetanović via Pexels.

No business should profit from modern slavery. We need laws to increase corporate accountability by driving responsible business practices.   

The CSDDD is world-leading and ensures large companies shoulder some responsibility for human rights abuses perpetrated in the making of their products. 

It would direct EU member states to enact legislation requiring businesses of a certain size to conduct human rights and environmental due diligence and report on their efforts. 

It’s been under negotiation for the past two years and a groundbreaking agreement was reached in December 2023.  

It is now at risk. Germany and other EU member states are signalling their plans to abstain. Without their support, the Directive will be at real risk of failure. 

And failure means forced labour and other human rights abuses remain an unacceptably low-risk activity for business leaders without a conscience.  It also creates an uneven playing field for those businesses who are committed to doing the right thing. 

“We need strong laws to drive better business practices and protect the most vulnerable. This is particularly important against the backdrop of increased vulnerability arising from conflict, economic crises and climate change,” Founding Director of Walk Free Grace Forrest said.

“The Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive will require businesses to be transparent and accountable for managing the human rights and environmental risks in their supply chains. The Directive is critical to create a level playing field and to ensure businesses are held to the same standard across the EU.”

The EU’s CSDDD legislation is not perfect, and involved a lot of compromise to get it where it is today. Nevertheless, it should be a beacon of hope for those living in modern slavery, and a model for the rest of the world to follow. 

We urge Germany and all EU member states to vote in its favour at the earliest opportunity.