The Dutch government is in dialogue with business sectors in the Netherlands to agree international corporate social responsibility (ICSR) covenants. These covenants aim to reduce potential risks in international supply chains when it comes to human rights, labour rights and environmental protection.

The Dutch government commissioned a study by KPMG to identify business sectors that have international supply chains that could pose higher risks when it comes to respect for human rights, labour rights and environmental protection. The study identified 13 such sectors.

Sectors and issues

The list includes a variety of sectors including the textile and garment industry, construction, metals, oil and gas, agriculture and food processing. A broad range of risks were taken into account in the analysis, including such different issues as child labour, excessive working hours, health hazards, land grabbing and local pollution.

Specific covenants

The covenant of the textile / garment sector with the government, labour unions and NGOs was finalised in March 2016. The covenant stipulates that participating companies have to map the risks in their supply chains and draw up improvement plans with concrete goals for a period of 3 to 5 years. In these plans, they have to pay attention to child labour and forced labour.

The covenant of the Dutch Banking Association with the government, labour unions and NGOs was signed in October 2016. The focus of the agreement is the role banks can play in preventing and addressing human rights related risks. This also includes risks related to labour rights such as forced and bonded labour.

The aim is to reach international corporate social responsibility (ICSR) covenants with at least 10 sectors. The covenants give concrete effect to corporate responsibility of businesses, in line with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.