In March 2017, France adopted the pioneering law on the duty of vigilance. With this law, large French companies are now required to identify and prevent the risks that their activities pose to fundamental freedoms, human health and safety, human rights and the environment.
We note that the government has not yet set up any mechanism to make sure that these companies comply with their legal obligations.
Alongside the cooperative Datactivist, a data analysis specialist, Sherpa an the CCFD-Terre Solidaire drew up an initial list based on public and financial databases (Infogreffe, Sirene, Orbis).
The list of identified companies is now displayed on the vigilance-plan.org webiste. The purpose of this website is twofold: to become a tool enabling all stakeholders, including trade unions and NGOs, to have access to the vigilance plans published; and to enable civil society actors to keep the list up to date in order to ensure that large French companies comply with their duty of vigilance. This website was developed with the support of the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.
We drew up a first (non-exhaustive) list of 237 companies that appear to be subject to the law. To our knowledge, 59 of them did not publish any plan.
How to ensure that the companies concerned establish, publish and implement a compliance plan?
To make sure that the law on the duty of vigilance is enforced adequately, we ask the public authorities to:
- Publish the list of companies subject to the duty of vigilance
- Make all vigilance plans accessible on a public database
- Strengthen transparency requirements to make financial and non-financial data on companies more accessible
- Lower and simplify application thresholds
The French law on the duty of vigilance is the outcome of a long struggle that the civil society led to hold companies legally accountable. This struggle is now European and global: the European Union is studying the possibility of adopting a European directive on the duty of vigilance and negotiations are under way at the United Nations to establish an international treaty on transnational corporations and human rights. We ask the French government to step up in this general movement.