L-R: Michel Reckinger, UEL President; Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs; Norman Fisch, INDR Secretary General; Credit: MAEE

Luxembourg's Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs has announced the launch of the "Business and Human Rights" national pact.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Michel Reckinger, President of the UEL (Union des Entreprises Luxembourgeoises) business union, and Norman Fisch, Secretary General of the National Institute for Sustainable Development and Corporate Social Responsibility (Institut national pour développement durable et la responsabilité sociale des entreprises - INDR), officially launched this new national pact.

This voluntary commitment is aimed at business leaders wishing to implement the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), which guide businesses in the implementation of due diligence of their value chain.

Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn recalled that on 11 December 2019, the Luxembourg government adopted the second edition of the “Business and Human Rights” national action plan. This document was drawn up by consensus between all the stakeholders represented in the “Business and Human Rights” working group and includes around 20 concrete actions to implement the UNGPs. One of these actions is the "Business and Human Rights" national pact.

The adoption and implementation of the national pact on respect for human rights in business activities makes it possible to formalise the partnership and joint commitment between the State and businesses to live up to their obligations under the UNGPS.

“I invite businesses to get involved in our common effort to promote and respect human rights by adhering to the 'Business and Human Rights' national pact. They thus subscribe to the guiding principles of the United Nations relating to business and human rights and initiate the implementation of due diligence in their economic value chains”, emphasised Minister Jean Asselborn.

UEL President Michel Reckinger insisted that awareness raising is a priority for businesses. It provides them with the elements to understand not only the expectations but also the opportunity that compliance with the guiding principles can present in terms of competitiveness and risk management, particularly regarding their reputation. Consequently, both the UEL and the INDR are strongly encouraging Luxembourg businesses to subscribe to this new pact.

Norman Fisch, Secretary General of INDR, noted that many businesses understand the issues but also the benefits of implementing due diligence: better risk management; greater understanding and transparency of the value chain; improved governance; resilience, reputation management and competitive advantage.

By subscribing to this pact, businesses undertake to: make their staff and stakeholders aware of the protection of human rights in the workplace; appoint a person responsible for human rights within the organisation; train the employees concerned in matters of business and human rights; develop governance instruments to identify risks and prevent human rights violations; implement one or more remedies to deal with reported cases of human rights violations; publish a standardised annual report on the measures implemented.

Participating businesses will also gain visibility as a signatory, benefit from training for the implementation of due diligence, receive a tailor-made support package, as well as receiving confidential feedback on their annual report by an external expert who will help them commit to continuous improvement in terms of respect for human rights.

The "Business and Human Rights" national pact website, dedicated to businesses, is hosted by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs at https://gd.lu/b3njr3.