It's been a good ten years since the United Nations adopted the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. These have sharpened companies' view of complex supply chains that extend into developing countries. And since then there has been intense discussion: Is soft law sufficient for responsibility for the supply chain, i.e. voluntary self-commitments, or is there a need for hard law and thus legal regulations whose non-compliance is sanctioned?
In practice there is no sharp dividing line: voluntary is not always non-binding, and legal does not always mean strict. At the moment, however, it looks like a decision has been made: After some European countries passed laws on individual aspects of supply chain responsibility in recent years, Germany and the EU are now following suit with legislation. This will ultimately be an advantage for companies: What counts for them is that they are on a level playing field with their competitors - and that means: the same rules for everyone!