Ensuring Effective Rights Holder Engagement in Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives

Preview Rights Holder Engagemetn MSI

Multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) in Germany aim to strengthen corporate due diligence by addressing the negative impacts of corporate activities on foreign production sites and value chains of German industrial players.

Their dialogue formats primarily bring together governmental, economic, and civil society actors based in Germany and therefore tend to exclude, or only selectively involve, stakeholder groups (rights holders) who are (or may be) adversely affected by corporate activities. The result is a critical imbalance between exposure to corporate activities, representation, and opportunities to influence MSIs. According to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, however, rights holder engagement is a crucial aspect of the human rights due diligence process. 

This paper illustrates the different dimensions of meaningful rights holder engagement in MSIs and highlights best practices developed by different German MSIs, thus showcasing how MSIs can contribute to due diligence implementation, at least in theory. In practice, however, rights holders have not yet been sufficiently involved in MSIs. This leads to a set of demands that need to be met by MSIs if they are to fully realize their potential:

  • MSIs must set down their commitment to engage with rights holders in their relevant founding and working documents.
  • MSIs need to implement measures to promote rights holder engagement. To this end, they should develop and publicly communicate a roadmap with clear goals and timelines.
  • MSIs should provide the necessary human and financial resources to implement these measures.
  • MSIs should regularly consult with rights holders to assess the effectiveness of measures and report regularly on the measures taken to involve rights holders.

Evelyn Bahn (INKOTA), Sarah Guhr (Germanwatch), Rebecca Heinz (Germanwatch), Andréa de Moraes Barros (CIR), Johannes Norpoth (FEMNET), Lara Louisa Siever (INKOTA)
Publication date
Bahn, E., et al., 2022, Ensuring Effective Rights Holder Engagement in Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives.
Document type
Policy Paper