Human rights

Luxembourg due diligence initiative calls for action

Human rights activists met up to promote the campaign calling towards a legal duty to care by businesses in Luxembourg Photo: Action Solidarité Tiers Monde 

Human rights activists met up to promote the campaign calling towards a legal duty to care by businesses in Luxembourg Photo: Action Solidarité Tiers Monde 

In Luxembourg, due diligence is a voluntary option for businesses and although foreign affairs minister Jean Asselborn (LSAP) is waiting for an EU-wide directive, the Initiative for Due Diligence now pushes for local action.

“A law on human rights and business? I'm for it!” display the posters by the Initiative for Due Diligence. Reminding of the importance of a national law for duty of care by businesses, who then would have to ensure the respect of human rights and the environment in their value chain, the initiative said in a press release: “Our country, which has the ambition to play a leading role in the Human Rights Council, should set an example and become a driving force at European level.”

A few days before the international Human Rights Day on 10 December, the initiative organised a conference and invited citizens to hang up posters demanding official legislation for businesses in Luxembourg.

Indeed, while Luxembourg was elected to be part of the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2022-2024 term, the country has also repeatedly faced criticism for providing headquarters for companies that disrespect both the environment and human rights.

The most recent case featured CAE Aviation, revealed in the Egypt Papers to have been involved in missions that targeted and killed Libyan civilians. The government had rejected all responsibility, saying it was not aware of the contract between the French government and CAE Aviation.

 A few months prior, the Pegasus papers had found Israeli spyware company NSO monitoring journalists and human rights’ activists. The firm is based in Luxembourg, as is confectionary company Ferrero, who are supplied by hazelnut farms in Turkey that function on child labour and refugee worker exploitation.  

While foreign affairs minister Jean Asselborn  argues that a due diligence law should not be made on a national level, but that the government would wait on EU-wide legislation, a survey by NGOs in Luxembourg found that 92% of the public would support such laws being introduced at a local level.

In February, a group of 32 local businesses, including Naturata, Luxlait and Grosbusch, had signed a declaration demanding mandatory due diligence regulation for all companies.