Human Rights & Labour

Menschenrechte & Arbeitsnormen

Depending on your level of knowledge, you can choose from the following formats:


A triad of publications, a webinar and a coaching session give you an introduction to human rights due diligence – you will find concrete starting points to help you actively tackle the topic.

  • The publications „Respecting Human Rights“ (0,58 MB PDF)  und „5 Steps towards managing the Human Rights Impacts of your Business“ (0,84 MB PDF) show the importance of individual human rights for companies and support companies during their first steps along the path towards human rights care.
  • The webinar ‘Business and Human rights’ takes place once each quarter and offers a one-hour introduction to the topic. It explains human rights for businesses and encourages the first practical steps.
  • The group coaching session ‘Respecting Human Rights’ enables participants to assess and tackle the human rights risks of their companies. Practical examples and exercises expand the participants’ knowledge and help them develop their first, individual solutions and approaches to action.


For companies that are already dealing with the topic, detailed offers on specific subjects and challenges are available:

Peer Learning

Information exchange formats enable practitioners further to develop solutions together and continuously exchange information on topics, enabling them to learn from one another:

  • Learning group: A learning group consisting of eight companies from different industries is currently active. The Alumni of the coaching sessions exchange information with one another about their experiences online and off-line under the guidance of the Secretariat and further develop their approaches together with experts. The results are made available on the wider Network in anonymous form.
  • Workshops: Workshops on human rights aspects are held regularly during the bi-annual DGCN Network meetings. These offers will be subsequently put online, making them available to all participants.

The aim of human rights is to protect the dignity and the freedom of human beings. Human rights apply globally and equally to all human beings. They include, for example, the prohibition of discrimination, the right to privacy, the right to safe and fair working conditions and the right to an adequate standard of living.

The State, as a primary address for the protection of human rights, has a duty to respect human rights, to protect them from interference by third parties (such as companies) and to ensure human rights. However, companies can also influence human rights through their actions, e.g. on the human rights of their employees, suppliers, customers and consumers, as well as the human rights of people who live near the company and production sites.
Respect for human rights is therefore a key prerequisite for the social acceptance of business activities and for limiting reputational, operational, financial and legal risks. A proactive human rights approach helps in the prevention or reduction of management costs, in the protection of a company’s own reputation and in the preparation or the implementation of new regulatory measures. Such an approach also brings advantages in terms of meeting the demands of business customers, an improved credit rating, more positive acceptance by customers compared to competitors and greater employee satisfaction, all of which generate a better operating environment.

The first six principles of the UN Global Compact are therefore aimed at respect for human rights and the implementation of labour standards. They are derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (0,02 MB PDF, German) and from the „Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work“ (0,1 MB PDF, German) of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Good Practices

  • Best Practice – Children’s and Labour Rights

    Children’s and Labour Rights

    Any activity which is too dangerous for children because of their age, which affects their physical and mental development and which prevents them from going to school is known as child labour. The worst forms include slavery or forced labour. According to estimates by UNICEF, ILO and the World Bank, approximately 170 million children are affected worldwide. 85 million of these suffer from working conditions that are dangerous and exploitative. German companies can also encounter child labour within their more ramified supply chains; the mining of raw materials in developing countries and emerging markets is one example of this. What companies can do to eliminate child labour in their value creation process is ideally shown by the measures that Merck takes within its mica supply chain.

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  • Best Practice – From the Supply Chain – with the WE project as an example

    Best Practice – From the Supply Chain – with the WE project as an example

    Many Tchibo articles are manufactured in the factories of emerging and developing countries. The enforcement of social standards such as fair wages, work health and safety and freedom of assembly is a major challenge. Factory inspections alone – so-called social audits – are not sufficient to improve working conditions in the long term. The implementation of social standards also fails in many cases because of the lack of employee involvement. This is where Tchibo’s ‘Worldwide Enhancement of Social Quality’ supplier training program (‘WE’) comes in – it moves the dialogue of all the relevant stakeholders into the spotlight.

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The principles

1Principle 1
Businesses should support and respect the protection of international human rights
2Principle 2
Companies should ensure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.
1Principle 3
Companies should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, as well as
2Principle 4
the elimination of all forms of com­pulsory labour,
3Principle 5
the abolition of child labour and
4Principle 6
the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

Support through the DGCN

The principles of the Global Compact also correspond to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, an international frame of reference for Business and Human Rights. It formulates the basic societal expectation that companies around the world have the responsibility to respect human rights in their own business activities and business relations.

In the field of “Business and Human Rights”, the DGCN supports companies in the implementation of their CSR, in that it:

  • points out the relevance of the respect for human rights along the value chain for companies.
  • enables companies to anchor human rights due diligence in management processes involving internal and external stakeholders, through practical solutions and tools.
  • draws attention to the human rights of especially vulnerable groups, particularly those of Women (0,23 MB PDF, English) and children (3,8 MB PDF, German).
  • provides a platform for continuous exchange of information to discuss strategies and measures and to further develop business-related approaches.


Laura Curtze

Laura Curtze

+ 49 (0)30 7261 4 239

Useful Links

Human Rights Due Diligence Info Portal

The Human Rights Due Diligence Info Portal supports companies in setting up and improving their human rights due diligence processes.


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