Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany’s corporate culture has always been characterized by responsible behavior – whether with respect to products, employees, the environment, or society. Consequently, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is committed to upholding human rights within its sphere of influence and welcomes the adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011. This set of principles created a global framework for countries to protect human rights, and for companies to respect these rights, by setting forth key principles in their business practices.
Countries are obliged to establish a regulatory framework for protecting human rights. For global companies, it is important that this be implemented in the various countries in order to create uniform competitive conditions for all companies.
The duty of companies is to uphold and respect human rights; they must not violate any human rights in the course of their activities. Furthermore, companies must fulfill their responsibility by acting with the necessary due diligence, which includes identifying and managing risks.
Human rights risk assessment
In exercising this due diligence, we conducted a human rights risk assessment in 2012 with the support of external specialists. The goal was to identify the risks to human rights resulting from our activities as a global pharmaceutical, chemical and life science company. In the process, we identified a number of areas where Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany has made significant progress with regard to respecting and complying with human rights (for example, in the prevention of product misuse as well as the associated health hazards). On the other hand, we also determined areas where we can further improve the existing regulations and processes with regard to human rights. As a result, we defined three high-priority action areas:
- Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany places high demands on its suppliers with regard to compliance with social and ecological standards. We refine and enhance our supplier management process in order to adhere more closely to environmental, compliance and social standards in our supply chain worldwide and to prevent violations. This is particularly a challenge beyond the first supplier.
- Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany always abides by the highest legal, ethical and scientific standards in all clinical trials, whether in industrialized or developing countries, whether multinational or multicentric. However, we held a discussion with independent experts on our Bioethics Advisory Board concerning the topic of clinical trials in resource-poor countries. This revealed that, regardless of our high standards, additional aspects must be addressed in developing countries. For example, one aspect is an effective risk analysis conducted with due diligence of the contract parties participating in the trials.
- Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany would like to make further progress in the area of access to health. For example, we are expanding our research program within the scope of our Praziquantel Donation Program, a partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the worm disease schistosomiasis. We are now working to develop a pediatric tablet formulation for preschool children, a previously untreated age group. Furthermore, we plan to establish an overall management process for access to health.
The Corporate Responsibility Committee has decided to develop a comprehensive human rights policy. The aim is to increase awareness of the topic within Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany and to identify company-specific risks more accurately.
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is a member of the Human Rights Peer Learning Group within the German Global Compact Network. The purpose of this working group is the mutual exchange of experiences and best practices related to the topic of business and human rights.