Evaluation and revision of policy on Responsible Business Conduct (RBC)

In 2020 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is conducting an evaluation into its policy on Responsible Business Conduct (RBC). It means that Dutch companies doing business abroad comply with rules on human rights, working conditions and environmental protection. 

Evaluation gives insight into RBC measures

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is evaluating its policy on responsible business conduct to see if it is working as intended. The evaluation project’s title is ‘Insight into RBC measures’. It also examines how other European countries deal with RBC. The government also wants to know how companies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have experienced RBC policy.

On 16 October the government took a decision on the outline of a new RBC policy. The keystone of this policy is the introduction of an obligation to exercise RBC. This should preferably be established by the EU. The government is also taking additional measures that will help and encourage businesses to better shoulder responsibility for the impact of their activities (or those of their business partners) on people and the environment abroad. This is set out in the policy document and the letter sent to the House of Representatives and is the outcome of the policy evaluation and studies undertaken in recent months.

Enlarge image Overview of the new RBC policy, October 2020

Overview of the new RBC policy.

RBC and companies, civil society organisations, academics and other stakeholders

It is important that measures to foster responsible business conduct are both practical and effective. That’s why companies and NGOs are closely involved in this project. Their commitment and knowledge are vital. NGOs have valuable information about conditions in production countries, which the Ministry wants to include in the project. And companies have been asked which potential measures would be practicable in their commercial operations. The Ministry wants to benefit from this knowledge and experience.

Reasons for evaluating and revising RBC policy

  • In its coalition agreement, the government states that voluntary agreements on RBC are an important part of current RBC policy. It also says that after two years, the government will consider whether to adopt binding obligations and, if so, what the nature of such obligations should be.
  • Companies doing business abroad can be confronted with difficult situations which they do not always know how to deal with. For example, when they find out a foreign manufacturer is exploiting its workers. It’s important that Dutch policy helps companies deal with situations like this.
  • In the Netherlands and abroad, responsible business conduct gets a lot of attention. The government wants to check if the Dutch rules tie in well with international efforts.
  • The Child Labour (Duty of Care) Act was passed in May 2019. It requires companies to take action to prevent child labour in their supply and production chains. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs still has to work out the details of the Act, so that it ties in with other elements of RBC policy. The Act is not expected to come into force until at least 2022.

On the road to new RBC policy in 2020

The project ‘Insight into RBC measures’ is divided into 3 parts:

Contact the project team

If you have any questions about the ‘Insight into RBC measures’ project, please email the project team at imh-mvo@minbuza.nl.