Human rights due diligence: the European Union’s approach to ensuring respect for human rights in business
With increasing global attention on the relationship between business and human rights, the 2011 United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights developed the notion of human rights due diligence as a means for companies to ensure that their activities do not violate peoples’ rights. The approach is built on companies setting up and employing mechanisms to assess and mitigate the risks of human rights violations connected to their business activities. Mandatory due diligence focusing on human rights has been increasingly taken up by legislators, including at the level of the European Union. The present study examines three pieces of EU legislation enshrining different aspects of due diligence to show the potential of such mechanisms and examine what issues need to be taken into account when considering future laws mandating due diligence at EU level. The analysis highlights the need for greater clarity when legislating due diligence and calls for political leadership on part of the EU to ensure the effective use of due diligence requirements in pursuit of decreasing corporate human rights abuses worldwide.