Ein Lieferkettengesetz für Deutschland zur Einhaltung der Menschenrechte – eine Ersteinschätzung aus völkerrechtlicher Sicht
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Since years the impact of multinational enterprises on human rights standards is a major concern for lawyers, policymakers and society as a whole. The German ministries have presented an initiative for a supply chain law obliging enterprises to conduct a human rights due diligence along the entire supply chain. Enterprises failing to conduct an adequate human rights due diligence may face financial sanctions and individuals negatively affected may even file a civil action. The exact content of the future law is yet to be determined as the initiative is facing harsh criticism from other ministries but also entrepreneurs. The initiative is embedded in a larger movement calling for increased awareness for the role of multinational enterprises and their potential implication in severe human rights violations. On 6 August 2020, the Second Revised Draft on a legally binding treaty on businesses and human rights was adopted. The draft obligates states to enact legislation requiring companies to conduct a human rights due diligence. Although it is still unclear whether the draft treaty will come into legal existence, the current developments have to be seen as a positive step towards increased human rights awareness in the context of multinational supply chains. Furthermore, the draft treaty unveils a clear tendency to identify states as the primary duty bearers in relation to multinational enterprises and their involvement in potential human rights violations. This article seeks to analyze both the German initiative in a broader context and the draft treaty on businesses and human rights with a view to identifying the major legal challenges that arise ranging from the legitimacy of and the limitations to a state's exercise of extraterritorial jurisdiction to the question of partial international legal personality of multinational enterprises.