This guide is based on the internationally recognised standards for responsible business conduct which all businesses, including small and medium-sized companies, are expected to implement and comply with. Corporate responsibility to respect human rights is independent of the ability or willingness of states to protect human rights.

International standards on which this guide is based include:

UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

OECD Guidelines for Responsible Business Conduct

OECD and FAO Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains

The international guidelines provide businesses the flexibility to adapt the principles and processes to individual company set-ups, specific initiatives, and processes. Companies can use this guide as a framework to strengthen and develop their own tailored due diligence systems and continuously integrate these into their own processes and workflows.

The international guidelines stress that carrying out due diligence for human rights cannot be separated from climate and environmental obligations. This guide focuses on human rights. Companies must deal with risks to the climate and the environment in the same way as human rights – and they are often closely linked.

Laws in various European countries already require companies to perform due diligence. Some are national, some are focused on a commodity (wood or conflict minerals) or a right (forced labour). In 2020, the European Commission began drafting legislation at EU level committing companies to carrying out due diligence on environment and human rights.

Who is behind this guide?

This guide and website were prepared by the Danish Initiative for Ethical Trade with support from the Danish Agriculture & Food Council and Arla Foods.

The Danish Initiative for Ethical Trade is the Danish platform for sustainable value chains. Our vision is that trade must be responsible and promote social, economic, and environmentally sustainable development for all in line with the Global Goals.

Based on this guide and together with our partners and members, we wish to unite and mobilise all actors in the food cluster to develop knowledge and innovative solutions and take concrete action to promote respect for human rights, labour rights, and protection of the environment and climate in global trade.

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