Sector dialogues support implementation of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights

Project description

Title: Sector dialogues to support implementation of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS)
Country: Germany
Overall term: 2018 to 2021


In 2016, the German Government adopted the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP). For the first time, this plan laid out German companies’ responsibility for upholding human rights – both within Germany and worldwide. It implements the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in Germany with the aim of improving the human rights situation throughout global value chains.

The German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) is conducting sector dialogues in this context. In doing so, it aims to establish a mutual understanding of sector-specific human rights risks, develop implementation-oriented, sector-specific guidelines and devise joint pilot projects; these might involve a specific raw material, for example, or inter-company grievance mechanisms.


The human rights situation along the global value chains of German companies has improved.


The first step involves identifying sectors that are associated with particular human rights risks. The German Government then contacts these sectors to identify their interest in carrying out a sector dialogue, including not only the companies operating in the sector, but also relevant associations, trade unions and non-governmental organisations. If they are interested, a dialogue agreement is negotiated between all the parties involved to define the objectives and approach for the process.

The aim of the dialogues is to develop sector-specific guidelines to support implementation of the core elements of the NAP. They also serve as a cooperation platform to enable the stakeholders to adopt a common approach and thus enhance their potential impact. For example, there are plans to develop joint pilot projects to improve conditions in producer countries.

A sector dialogue is a process that involves several stages. Firstly, three working groups focus on content-related questions: participants begin by defining specific terms of reference and key questions. In the second stage, the parties implement the measures. Their effectiveness is then assessed by the sector dialogue participants during the third stage.

Last update: July 2021

Additional information