Tribune. The Covid-19 crisis has shown us how fragile and unsustainable our global supply chains are. Globally, the direct and indirect effects of the pandemic are causing many children to return to mines, fields and factories. In 2021, for the first time in twenty years, experts from the International Labor Organization (ILO) tell us that child labor has increased to 160 million.
Child labor, forced labor, poverty wages… This dark face of globalization, that of the impoverishment and enslavement of the most vulnerable out of sight, can no longer be tolerated by the public authorities. The fight for a more humane globalization must become the great political matrix of the coming years, all our energy must be devoted to it in the name of human dignity and the protection of our common home.
France, the first
For this, instruments already exist and must now be used, disseminated and improved. Among them, the duty of vigilance: the obligation imposed on multinationals to effectively prevent serious violations of human rights and the environment, at the end of the street as well as at the end of the world.
On March 27, 2017, France was the first to adopt such an instrument by adopting the law on the duty of vigilance of parent companies and ordering companies. This “pass-wall” law therefore provides for lifting the legal veil that organizes the impunity of principals vis-à-vis the invisible victims of their subsidiaries, their subcontractors and their suppliers. With hindsight, this law appears to be a process that generates rights: the highlighting of violations of human rights and common goods is intended to provoke structural responses in the regions and sectors affected.
Contrary to what was argued by supporters of the status quo, with this law France was not isolated but a pioneer for the European process.
In June 2021, the German Bundestag adopted the “Law on Due Diligence of Companies to Prevent Human Rights Violations in Supply Chains”, in which Germany implements due diligence mandatory in matters of human rights and environmental protection for companies established in Germany.
Millions of euros in fines
It was the German Social Democrats who, as the main driving force, supported such a law from the start and initiated a paradigm shift in Germany: from voluntary measures to binding rules for the protection of human rights. and the environment for businesses.
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