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Open Letter: Failure to comply with human rights due diligence obligations

Ten years ago, on Nov. 24th, 2012, 117 people died in the Tazreen factory fire. Exactly six months later, 1,135 people died in the rubble of Rana Plaza. The "Accord for Building Safety and Fire Prevention in Bangladesh" (Bangladesh Accord) was a response to these tragedies and has been successful in preventing such tragedies in the garment industry. Yet leading companies that produce in Bangladesh have not signed the Accord to date, including: TOM TAILOR, IKEA, Deichmann and Amazo.

FEMNET and ECCHR, together with other supporters, are therefore contacting the above companies and calling on them to sign the #Accord in order to fulfill their due diligence in the area of occupational health and safety - as the German SupplyChainLaw will also stipulate starting 2023. We are convinced that not signing the Accord is a violation of due diligence and we will therefore use all available legal means to hold companies accountable with the implementation of the supply chain law!


Read here the open letters or download the original versions to the brands in German and English:



Absender offener Brief sign the accord

To the brands

TOM TAILOR, Deichmann, IKEA und Amazon



Failure to comply with human rights due diligence obligations in accordance with the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (LkSG) in the area of occupational health and safety


Bonn/Berlin, 24. November 2022

Dear Madam and Sir,

Today, November 24th 2022, marks 10 years since the horrific Tazreen fire that killed over 110 garment workers in Bangladesh. Exactly 6 months later, Rana Plaza killed more than 1100. The Bangladesh Accord on Safety and Health in the Textile and Garment Industry was a response to these tragedies and has been successful preventing mass casualties in the garment industry where all other programmes have failed. The Bangladesh Accord needs to be seen as the foremost successful mechanism to effectively improve workplace safety worldwide.

We are sending you this letter because you are not a signatory to the Bangladesh Accord, nor to the successor to the Bangladesh Accord, known as the International Accord. We believe that by not signing the International Accord, as the most effective instrument for improving occupational safety and health, you are violating your health and safety due diligence obligations.

As you may be aware, the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (LkSG) will come into force on January 1, 2023. Based on the size of your company, you will fall within the scope of the LkSG as of January 2023. The LkSG not only requires companies to establish preventive measures in their own business area, but also obliges them to take preventive measures with their direct suppliers (Section 6 (4)) and with all suppliers further down the chain if they have concrete indications of human rights risks (Section 9). In § 2 section 2 no. 5, the LkSG identifies the risk to health and safety in the workplace as one of the central protective positions of the law.

The International Accord is exactly the appropriate preventive measure required by the LkSG in relation to occupational health and safety. The Bangladesh Accord has proven to be an outstanding example of effective action to address labour rights violations in global supply chains. It has helped eliminate tens of thousands of identified safety risks, educate and inform workers, and establish a grievance mechanism that allows workers to raise workplace safety issues.

This positive and outstanding impact is a direct result of the binding nature of the Accord, its legal enforceability, transparent reporting, meaningful involvement of worker representatives, independent inspections, and training for workers on their right to a safe and healthy workplace. All of this makes the Accord an effective example of human rights due diligence compliance. For example, if a supplier fails to correct safety deficiencies within the set deadlines, a warning procedure is initiated, which ultimately leads to the supplier no longer being allowed to produce for one of the signatory brands. This ensures that standards for worker safety and human rights are met, which is ultimately in the interest of every company that must comply with the aforementioned legal requirements of the LkSG.

In particular, the exemplary list of measures in § 6 section 4 coincides with the already established measures of the Accord. The obligation in § 7 section 2 no. 2 explicitly names industry initiatives: It states that companies are required to take remedial action and respond to human rights violations by developing sectoral initiatives in coordination with other companies and participating in standard setting to "increase [companies'] ability to influence the perpetrator [of human rights violations]."

This is exactly in line with the intent and mode of action of the International Accord.  To date, 186 companies have signed it, pledging to promote and protect the health and safety of workers in the textile and garment industry in Bangladesh and other countries as the Accord expands. There is arguably no better way to fulfil its obligation under section 6 no. 4 and section 7 no. 2 than to join an existing mechanism that encompasses the collective efforts of so many companies. The resulting opportunity to influence suppliers to protect the rights of workers in the apparel industry is immense and therefore the most sensible action for any company that must comply with the LkSG.

Therefore, not joining the agreement can be considered a breach of human rights due diligence under the LkSG, as it represents a deliberate neglect of a proven and effective tool to prevent and mitigate known human rights risks in the textile industry.

You have been contacted several times by various civil society organizations and trade unions to inform you of the health and safety risks in factories in Bangladesh, as well as in many other producing countries. Thus, you have substantiated knowledge regarding impending occupational health and safety risks in Bangladesh. Thus, there is an obligation on your part to fulfil your due diligence in the area of occupational safety and health by signing the Accord.

If you continue to neglect your responsibilities, we will consider the necessary legal steps, including a complaint to the German authority responsible for the LkSG, the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Kind regards,

 Logos of the supporters: #signtheaccord 2022