The Netherlands

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The challenge

Number of steps of the due diligence process completed by Dutch large companies

Number of steps of the due diligence process completed by Dutch large companies

In 2019 the import total to the EU was €2.057 trillion. An estimated €50.08 billion (2.434%) of that amount involved child labour. [1] In the same year, for the Netherlands the value of imported goods from outside the EU totalled more than 217 billion euros.[2]

The total purchasing volume of all Dutch government institutions together amounts to more than €73 billion per year. The government is the key player in various markets.[3]

35% of large companies [4] in the Netherlands have endorsed the OECD guidelines and/or UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (state of affairs: end of 2019).

18% of large companies explicitly endorsed a reference to one of the guidelines and 17% indicated how chain responsibility is anchored in policy and management systems as the first of the six steps of due diligence.[5]

The voluntary RBC agreements show progress, but reached only 1.6% of the total number companies in the 13 sectors with high RBC risks in the Netherlands.[6]

50 unique companies were supported through the Fund against Child Labour since the start in 2018.

It is estimated that between 5,000 and 7,500 children and adults are victims of human trafficking in the Netherlands each year. On average, 215 reports of suspected victims of labour exploitation are registered per year by official bodies.[7]

Companies endorsing OECD guidelines

Companies endorsing OECD guidelines

Milestones

2002

Ratification ILO convention 182 ‘Worst forms of child labour’ (February 14), Ratification ILO convention no. 138 (Minimum Age) was ratified in 1976 (September 14).

2010

The Hague Global Child Labour Conference; Towards a world without child labour; mapping the Road to 2016 The second International Child Labour Conference 2010 in The Hague, brought together a diverse and representative array of actors involved in the fight against child labour. The conference concluded with the The Hague Roadmap for achieving the elimination of the worst forms of child labour by 2016 which included principles and actions for the different stakeholders.

2013

Presentation of the Action Plan RBC Policy of the government In this action plan, the Dutch government describes the added value of the government in RBC, and what activities it will undertake in the coming years. This focusses on: Doing a sector risk analysis, which shows high RBC risk sectors in the Netherlands; giving information of RBC; Stimulating transparency and stakeholder dialogue; and Promoting monitoring and compliance with OECD guidelines.

2016

First voluntary Sector Agreement on RBC launched The Dutch tripartite Social-eEonomic Council (SER) recommended concluding multistakeholder sector agreements promoting international responsible business conduct (IRBC agreements) in so called high-RBC risk sectors. The first one to be concluded was the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textiles. In 2021, 11 sectors have concluded and started implementing international RBC agreements.

2017

Adoption of first National Action Plan Business & Human Rights Focussing on the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights by the Netherlands. Five main points came out of the consultations with stakeholders: active role of government; policy coherence; clarifying due diligence; transparency and reporting; and scope for remedy. The NAP describes concrete actions that will be taken on these topics.

2018

Start ILO ACCEL programme

2019

Launch ‘Programme: Together against Human Trafficking’ This programme is a joint initiative of several ministries to tackle sexual exploitation, labour exploitation and criminal exploitation through an integrated approach.

2019

Adaptation Child Labour Duty of care Act This draft Act, adopted on the initiative of Dutch MP Kuiken, provides for the introduction of a duty of care to prevent the supply of goods and services that have been created with the help of child labour. The Act asks companies to declare that they perform due diligence and do what is necessary to prevent child labour. The law has not yet entered into force, awaiting further (EU- or national) legislation on due diligence.

2020

International Meeting ‘Taking next steps to end child labour in global supply chains’ The Dutch government, together with Global March and ILO, organised this international meeting to raise the urgency to eliminate child labour and accelerate actions, by discussing among different stakeholders practical solutions and next steps to end child labour by 2025 in line with SDG Target 8.7. 12 Companies made a commitment to eliminate child labour in their supply chains.

2021

Updating National Action Plan Business and Human Rights and national RBC policy Currently, The Netherland’s has begun a process to develop an updated NAP. As part of this process a national baseline assessment was published in August 2020 (in Dutch). Also, the government has evaluated its RBC policy and proposes a RBC policy consisting of a mix of mutually reinforcing measures for an effective change. A key element of the new smart mix is a general due diligence obligation.

Priorities

  • Support (financially) businesses, local authorities and multi stakeholder approach through FBK, ACCEL, WNCB
  • Support and raise awareness through activities and campaigns among businesses to child labour and forced labour in their supply chains.
  • Share practical tips/suggestions and innovative solutions to upscale efforts
  • Develop and implement voluntary and non-voluntary instruments by the government
  • Develop and implement plans involved to activate and support businesses and other stakeholders to tackle child labour and forced labour in their supply chains.
  • Prevent and combat labour exploitation as a result of labour migration at national level.
  • Keeping the efforts to combat child labour in supply chains on the agenda, nationally and internationally
  • Link eradication of child labour to root causes, living wage / income and quality education
  • Stimulate (multistakeholder) dialogue on the elimination of child labour among different target groups and within broader themes such as decent work and RBC
  • Contribute to an effective monitoring system worldwide in the context of Alliance 8.7
  • Share challenges and opportunities via (interim) evaluations and results, and good practices of our programmes
  • Support the execution of targeted research on child labour

Quote

“We have seen an increase in child labour compared with 2016. Despite tremendous efforts in recent decades, 160 millions of children worldwide are still forced to work. Doing work that is often harmful to their health and safety. We cannot accept that. Our priority is clear: we need to speed up the elimination of child labour in global supply chains. Actions at national level is not enough. We can fulfil it by encouraging businesses to take action and offer our support. By sharing good practices and experiences to urge laggards to go the extra mile. And by a broader approach that addresses root causes to improve overall quality of life. Therefore we say: let’s all work together to end child labour everywhere.”

Wouter Koolmees, Minister of Social Affairs and Employment

Sigrid Kaag, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Updates

  • 26 Jul 2019
    family work

    The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has unanimously adopted a resolution declaring 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child ..

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  • 27 Jan 2020
    family work

    On 27-28 January 2020, the strategic workshop ‘Taking next Steps to end child labour in supply chains’ took place with over 200 participants world..

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  • 21 Jan 2021
    family work

    The International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour starts with virtual event GENEVA – The International Year for the Elimination of Child..

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  • 12 Jun 2021
    family work

    On World Day against Child Labour, the ministers of Foreign Affairs and Social Affairs and Employment launched an action pledge to contribute to the e..

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