The Dutch parliamentary dossier on the topic of socially responsible business conduct (maatschappelijk verantwoord ondernemen or MVO), which literally translates as ‘corporate social responsibility’ or ‘CSR’) dates back to 1999. Over time, the dossier has become increasingly focused on the international dimension of the topic, i.e. on human rights violations and environmental harm related to business activities in the global supply chains of Netherlands-based internationally operating business enterprises. The term that has in recent years become associated with this international dimension is that of international responsible business conduct (IRBC) (internationaal maatschappelijk verantwoord ondernemen or IMVO).

In November 2014, the Dutch government presented the results of a Sector Risk Analysis in which thirteen sectors of Dutch industry were identified as involving relatively high risks of adverse impacts on human rights and the environment. The government indicated that it expected companies in these sectors to both take steps aimed at preventing and mitigating the CSR-related risks in their value chains, and engage with other companies and stakeholders to come to concrete agreements on the ways in which these risks could be dealt with in a structural manner. Those agreements were to be laid down, preferably, in so-called covenants: agreements between the Dutch government and one or more societal parties aimed at realizing certain policy aims, which typically take the form of a written document setting out the actions that each of the parties is expected to take in furtherance of those aims. These covenants on International Responsible Business Conduct (IRBC-covenants) were to be drafted along the lines set out in a 2014 report by the Dutch Social and Economic Council (SER) on the same topic.

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Enneking, L.F.H. (2020). Netherlands country report for European Commission study on Human Rights Due Diligence in the Supply Chain. In: Study on due diligence requirements through the supply chain. Part III: Country Reports (pp. 170–196). Retrieved from