In order to strengthen corporate responsibility along supply and value chains, so-called multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) are often used nationally and internationally. Most recently, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) announced its intention to step up its efforts to promote EU-wide sectoral dialogues within the framework of Germany’s EU Council Presidency.
Based on German non-governmental organisations‘ many years of experience with MSIs, the CorA Network, the Forum Menschenrechte and VENRO describe requirements for effective MSIs in a joint position paper. In the opinion of the editors, these can represent a useful supplement to regulatory measures, but essential challenges must be overcome to achieve this. These include the voluntary nature of participation, lack of sanction mechanisms and a high level of effort in relation to the usually low level of aspiration. In order to realize the potential of MSIs, the present paper therefore identifies requirements that must be taken into account both when initiating new MSIs and when further developing existing MSIs. Thus, the paper also offers important conclusions for the sectoral dialogues that are being developed as part of the National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights. The editors emphasize, however, that under no circumstances can the membership of companies in MSIs guarantee the implementation of due diligence obligations across the board and thus cannot replace an effective supply chain law.