Another Proposed Human Rights Due Diligence and Reporting Requirement for Multinationals – This Time Norway

SUMMARY

On November 28, 2019, the Ethics Information Committee convened by the Norwegian government recommended the adoption of mandatory corporate human rights legislation. As proposed, this broadly applicable Act would create additional human rights due diligence and disclosure obligations for a significant number of multinationals doing business in Norway. This Alert provides a detailed overview of... (see full summary)

 
FREE EXCERPT

On November 28, 2019, the Ethics Information Committee convened by the Norwegian government recommended the adoption of mandatory corporate human rights legislation. As proposed, this broadly applicable Act would create additional human rights due diligence and disclosure obligations for a significant number of multinationals doing business in Norway. This Alert provides a detailed overview of the draft Act.

The draft Norwegian Act adds to the rapidly growing body of corporate human rights legislation adopted, proposed or under discussion in several countries and at the European Union level. For other Ropes & Gray Alerts, Articles and White Papers discussing corporate human rights legislation, please visit our firm website and our CSR and Supply Chain Compliance website.

Background and Purpose of the Act

The Ethics Information Committee was established by the Norwegian government during June 2018 in response to two petition resolutions by the Parliament. The ten-member committee has members from academia, business, government, trade unions, employers’ organizations and NGOs.

The Committee was tasked with assessing whether Norwegian businesses should be required to disclose information on responsible business conduct and supply chain management. As was widely expected, the Committee concluded that mandatory legislation is necessary, which is consistent with the growing sentiment globally that a “smart mix of measures” to address potential adverse human rights impacts by businesses requires a combination of voluntary and mandatory instruments. The Committee also was tasked with proposing the scope of legislation and how it should be enforced if the Committee concluded that legislation is feasible and advisable. At the time the Committee was formed, it was announced that the Committee would submit its report to the government by December 1, 2019.

According to the Committee’s Report, the purpose of the Act is to provide consumers, trade unions, civil society organizations and others with information on the impact of businesses on fundamental human rights and labor conditions in order to enable consumers to make informed choices and question responsible business conduct. The Act also aspires to advance fundamental human rights and labor principles in order to improve working conditions in businesses and their supply chains globally.

Covered Enterprises

As proposed, the Act would apply to enterprises that offer goods and services in Norway. Enterprises are defined expansively to include companies, cooperative societies, associations, sole proprietorships, foundations or other forms of organizations. Covered enterprises also include publicly owned enterprises offering goods or services. The draft Act is not by its terms limited to entities...

To continue reading

REQUEST YOUR TRIAL