Integrated Company Report 2018

The GIZ orientation on human rights is binding for all employees. At company level, we implement this orientation based on the National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights (NAP). What does this mean for us? It means that we screen potential partners and respect the core labour standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO) when we source materials and services. We also communicate GIZ’s human rights approach at our training events.


GIZ works on the issue of human rights at a variety of points. The Sustainability Office works closely with the Sustainability Board in implementing the National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights (NAP). The Sustainability Board takes landmark decisions on this issue for the company. The Sectoral Department, which hosts the Safeguards+Gender Desk, is responsible for providing projects with technical support on human rights. The Sector Project on Human Rights advises the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ) on this issue.


GIZ is aware of its responsibility for human rights in its project work and at company level. This prompted GIZ to take part in the Fit for the NAP training programme in 2018 in order to deepen its understanding of the NAP’s requirements for companies. The German Global Compact Network (DGCN) offers this training programme. Roughly, 400 German companies and approximately 60 organisations that are signatories to the UN Global Compact belong to DGCN, which supports companies in shaping processes that guarantee compliance with human rights.

The process that guides us in implementing the NAP as a company has five core elements. In a gap analysis, GIZ used this as a basis for systematically scrutinising potential shortcomings in terms of human rights due diligence at company level.


We provide detailed information about how we carry out human rights due diligence within the framework of the NAP for the first time in the Integrated Company Report 2018. In future, we will continue to report here on our activities to implement the core elements of the NAP. In doing so, we will also demonstrate our commitment under the UN Global Compact’s two human rights principles.


The GIZ Management Board adopted the orientation on human rights in 2012. It focuses on our efforts and our responsibility to strengthen human rights in cooperation with partner countries. The orientation refers to all of the human rights obligations of the Federal Republic of Germany and recognises these as the normative foundation for GIZ’s actions. Moreover, GIZ underscores its independent corporate responsibility for human rights. GIZ has joined the UN Global Compact and aligns its action with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The orientation also spotlights our efforts and our responsibility in project work: On behalf of the German Government and other commissioning parties and clients, we implement projects targeted directly at improving the human rights situation in our partner countries. In other areas of international cooperation, we make substantial indirect contributions towards securing human rights through our advisory and training work.

Some of the countries in which we work have major shortfalls in their implementation of human rights. As part of our commissions, we support these countries in moving towards compliance with international standards and bringing about improvements in respecting, protecting and guaranteeing human rights. We refer explicitly to these endeavours in negotiation processes while at the same time taking account of the individual context and advising our cooperation partners accordingly. We are sensitive to difficult human rights situations, which we examine, monitor and address in our work. In consultation with our commissioning parties, we pay careful attention to the way that we work and the results that we achieve.

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The GIZ orientation on human rights is binding for all employees working in Germany and abroad. It applies to all of our organisational units and serves as a guide for our actions inside and outside the company. It is part of our understanding of sustainable development and reinforces existing rules, procedures and activities. At the same time, it underscores the importance of human rights to GIZ vis à vis our commissioning parties, business partners, partner institutions and the public at large.


At project level, we use the Safeguards+Gender Management System in advance of projects to identify potential unintended adverse impacts on human rights and develop actions to prevent or mitigate these effects.

At company level, we work and act within the parameters of the National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights (NAP). In the process, we have identified potential gaps that we will examine in greater detail in a risk analysis in 2019.

In the event that we encounter risks to human rights due diligence, we will derive and implement mitigating measures in order to counter these risks for rights holders. The Sustainability Office is responsible for conducting the risk analysis and works closely with other units in the organisation throughout the entire process.

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Existing measures:

GIZ’s Code of Conduct: GIZ has set itself a framework of ethical standards and rules with its Code of Conduct. Our actions are guided by principles such as ensuring equal treatment, transparency and cooperation in partnership, and banning sexual harassment.

Our Code of Conduct is available to employees in German, English, French and Spanish and applies to our entire workforce. By analogy, the Code of Conduct is also applicable to development workers and integrated experts. It is incorporated in individual contractual agreements in a form specifically adapted to this group.

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The business partner screening (BPS) process:BPS is an integral and binding part of risk management at GIZ. In order to be successful in the long term, GIZ must operate responsibly when delivering its services. It therefore undertakes to exercise extreme care, and it examines the possible impact on GIZ’s image and on that of German development cooperation of private-sector cooperation partners, commissioning parties and bodies providing grants. To this end, business partner screening is a standard part of all cooperation arrangements and activities with companies and public benefit organisations involving third-party funding.

The aim is to highlight, before a project commences, any possible risks that could arise. If it emerges that the planned cooperation involves potential risks, we integrate risk-mitigation measures into the strategy of the future project. As part of the process, we review human rights factors.

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ILO Core Labour Standards in procurement: GIZ does not source raw materials like a manufacturing company. A large proportion of our procurement involves material, equipment and services. The integrity and social standards set out in the General Purchase Conditions (AEB) and General Terms and Conditions of Contract (AVB) govern our steps to comply with social criteria related to sustainable procurement. They are an integral part of every invitation to tender and thus also of every GIZ contract.

By agreeing to the AEB/AVB, bidders guarantee compliance with the ILO Core Labour Standards, which include eliminating forced labour, discrimination and child labour. In the event of infringements, GIZ explicitly reserves the right to seek damages, impose penalties and terminate the contract without notice. In 2019, GIZ will develop an e-learning course for its service providers that looks at corporate sustainability, including information on human rights.

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Risk management: Risk management encompasses all value creating processes in Germany and abroad and is grounded in continually addressing risks. It is based on standardised processes and formats for identifying risk. These are defined for both the regular reporting process and for ad-hoc reporting. We also take account of human rights risks.

Training: GIZ communicates the concept of the human rights-based approach and its own human rights standards and processes in a variety of training courses.

Altogether, 1,060 employees (field staff and Germany-based staff, development workers and integrated experts) took part in mandatory monthly introductory events during the 2018 reporting period. They included a two-hour module on key issues in sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. During this module, attendees learn about the GIZ orientation on human rights, the human rights grievance mechanism and the Safeguards+Gender Management System. During the 2018 reporting period, a total of 72 employees attended full-day and half-day training sessions to learn about the Safeguards+Gender Management System, the importance and requirements of safeguards on human rights and conflict and context sensitivity. In addition to these standardised training events, GIZ has also developed online consultations and informational events in a variety of formats on the Safeguards+Gender Management System, including the human rights safeguard. These events reached hundreds of staff members, including those working in the decentralised project structure at local level. The vast majority of GIZ’s workforce is made up of national personnel in partner countries. It is up to country offices to carry out and steer introductory events and organise various training opportunities for national personnel. No data is gathered or compiled on these events at central level.

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No other measures were implemented during the 2018 reporting year. These activities will be derived from the risk analysis in 2019. Steps to review the effectiveness of these measures will also be drawn up in 2019.


Internal grievance procedures exist in the form of the Central Staff Council, the equal opportunity commissioners and the staff representative for people with disabilities. The Central Staff Council’s task is to represent employees’ interests at company level. It is made up of six delegates from the three staff councils in Berlin, Bonn and Eschborn. Its duties include occupational safety issues at company level. Staff members who have a grievance can contact the staff council. In cases related to gender equality or a disability, they can also consult the equal opportunity commissioners or the staff representative for people with disabilities.

External human rights grievance procedure

GIZ responds immediately and appropriately to concerns that any of its actions may have an adverse impact on human rights. Responsibility for following up information of this sort lies with GIZ’s Compliance and Integrity Unit. All information is treated confidentially and the informant remains anonymous if so wished. The grievance mechanism can be reached worldwide by contacting:

The following steps are initiated as soon as information of this sort is received:

  • The Compliance and Integrity Unit examines information sent to and issues confirmation of receipt.
  • If the facts of the case appear plausible, they are examined and assessed in more depth either internally or externally.
  • The informant is notified within one week that an investigation has been initiated.
  • The Unit informs affected GIZ units of the outcome of the investigation.
  • The Compliance and Integrity Unit examines whether rules need to be drawn up or measures taken to eliminate human rights violations in future.
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The only case in 2018 related to a complaint in Côte d’Ivoire, which was received by GIZ at the end of 2018 and is being addressed in 2019.

More on this topic

As a leading service provider in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development, we work around the globe to improve people’s living conditions, and contribute substantially to developing and realising human rights: GIZ orientation on human rights.

The issue of human rights is essential for our partner countries’ development so it guides our project work.

Through our work, we want to change social and institutional frameworks so that individuals can assert and realise their rights and live in dignity: Our human rights expertise.

Our Sustainability Programme 2016–2020 provides guidance and gives the Sustainability Office a management tool. It addresses the issue of human rights.

We maintain and strengthen the employability of our staff by offering fair, transparent and equal rights and opportunities.

The German National Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights 2016–2020