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Business and Human Rights: Human Rights Due Diligence Laws


Jannika Jahn

About the Project:

The global economy is organised by multinational corporations along their transnational supply and value chains. In 2013, the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building in Bangladesh drew worldwide attention to the shortcomings in human rights protection within these supply chains. The incident was followed by a struggle for justice that highlighted global governance gaps in relation to the protection of individuals from the negative impacts of transnationally organised business cooperation. As a result, several European and North American countries have begun to enact legislation aligned with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (2011). On January 1, 2023, the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz, LkSG) came into force. It obliges German companies above a certain size to identify, prevent, mitigate, and eliminate adverse impacts of their activities on the environment and on human rights within their supply chains. With this law, the German legislator aims to contribute to a more sustainable global market that is in line with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals. The current version of the German LkSG will probably not be the last. Corporate social responsibility is a very dynamic area of law. After long negotiations, the European Parliament and the Council have reached an agreement on the European Commission’s proposal for a directive on corporate due diligence: the European Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence. This proposal differs from the German LkSG in several respects. For example, unlike the German law, it foresees a civil liability of multinational corporations and not only administrative fines. At international level, the so-called “Open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights” is negotiating an international treaty on the responsibility of multinational corporations for the respect of human rights in their global supply chains.

The project analyses these legal developments from a doctrinal and theoretical perspective. Part of the project is a legal commentary on the German LkSG. The commentary brings together legal scholars and practitioners to analyse and critically evaluate the legal provisions of the LkSG. Once the European Directive has been adopted and the German legislator implements the LkSG, the commentary will assess this implementation.


  • Henn/Jahn, Beck’scher Online-Kommentar zum LkSG [Beck Online-Commentary LkSG] (2023)
  • Jahn, Guest editor of a special issue of Rechtswissenschaft: „Globale Lieferketten im Recht“ [Global supply chains in law], 4 (2022)
  • Jahn, Vom korporativen Individualismus zum Gesellschaftsbezug multinationaler Unternehmen in einer internationalen Wirtschaftsordnung, Rechtswissenschaft 2022, 518-551
  • Jahn, Aspekte prozeduraler Gerechtigkeit in der Unternehmenssteuerung durch unilaterales Umweltrecht [Aspects of procedural fairness through unilateral environmental law regulating business conduct], in: Köck/Markus/Reese, Unilaterales Umweltrecht [Unilateral environmental law], Nomos, 2023, 161-170
  • Jahn, Das deutsche Lieferkettengesetz - Ein zweischneidiges Schwert für die wirksame Bewältigung eines globalen Problems [The German supply due diligence act – a double edged sword to effectively combat a global problem], Verfassungsblog, 31.05.2021
  • Henn/Jahn, Rechtsgutachten für den BUND e.V. mit Unterstützung von Greenpeace e.V. und der Deutschen Umwelthilfe e.V. zur Ausgestaltung einer umweltbezogenen Sorgfaltspflicht in einem Lieferkettengesetz [Legal opinion on the legality and legal construction of an evironmental due diligence obligation for multinational enterprises with respect to their global supply chains], 2020, 1-57.