Ensuring a rights-holder-centred application of the French Duty of Vigilance law: Early lessons learnt from Unión Hidalgo V EDF.
A report by CCFD-Terre Solidaire, ECCHR, ProDESC
In this publication, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), the Mexican association ProDESC and CCFD-Terre Solidaire highlight the considerable legal and procedural hurdles faced by the indigenous community in Mexico, Union Hidalgo, in the litigation against EDF on the basis of the Duty of Vigilance law.
There is a growing global movement to combat corporate impunity for human rights abuses in transnational business operations, as demonstrated by the European Corporate Sustainable Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) currently negotiated in the European Parliament.
France was a pioneer in adopting an ambitious text on the duty of vigilance as early as 2017. This law establishes a novel legal mechanism that imposes a binding obligation on France’s largest companies to identify and prevent human rights and environmental impacts resulting from their activities and within their supply chains. The law enshrines a process by which communities and individuals negatively affected by transnational corporate practices can access legal avenues for prevention and redress of harm.
However, five years after the French law came into force, and despite an increasing number of cases being filed, it is unclear whether its interpretation and implementation by French courts will allow it to become a legal tool that lives up to its stated objectives. In particular, the gaps and ambiguities in the text of the law risk creating loopholes that allow companies to evade their responsibilities and thus hinder the exercise of the rights it creates.
Based on this observation, CCFD-Terre Solidaire, CIDSE’s French member organisation, together with ECCHR and ProDESC, released this report in order to address the major issue of the interpretation and implementation of the duty of vigilance by the French courts. The document also includes recommendations to the French government and European policymakers.
Contact: Clara Alibert, Chargée de plaidoyer Acteurs Economiques, CCFD-Terre Solidaire (c.alibert(at)ccfd-terresolidaire.org)