Unable to identify even gross human rights violations: Our countermotions

Re agenda item 2: Appropriation of profit

The Association of Ethical Shareholders Germany proposes that the appropriation of profit proposed by the Board of Executive Directors and the Supervisory Board be rejected.


Once again, the proposed dividend, which is unchanged from the previous year, is too high. Instead of cutting jobs and investments in the urgently needed socio-ecological transformation of all BASF divisions, the dividend should be reduced. The current dividend policy is not sustainable, it is in fact a waste of resources: the proposed dividend amount of over EUR 3 billion can already no longer be paid from the free cash flow of EUR 2.7 billion in 2023.

There is still an opportunity to use the profits from 2023 to invest significantly more in green energies and the circular economy in order to offer a number of sites the prospect of a concrete future instead of job cuts. With BASF’s current free cash flow forecast of between EUR 0.1 and 0.6 billion for 2024, not only the next dividend but also the coverage of investment requirements is more than questionable. Further cuts and cost-cutting measures to the detriment of employees and climate protection are to be feared, which would acutely jeopardize BASF’s real substance and the basis of its operating business in the medium term.

A significant reduction in the dividend is therefore once again our proposal as to how BASF’s shareholders could also make a greater contribution to securing the future. All signs indicate that this will no longer be possible next year.

Re agenda item 3: Discharge of the members of the Supervisory Board

The Association of Ethical Shareholders Germany proposes that the actions of the members of the Supervisory Board for the 2023 financial year not be approved.


The Supervisory Board has not adequately fulfilled its role as a supervisory body of the Board of Executive Directors. It has continued failing to work towards remedying glaring deficiencies in the observance of human rights due diligence obligations even in direct business relationships.

The human rights risk analysis required by the Supply Chain Due Diligence Act and the measures primarily used by BASF for this purpose, such as internal and external audits, are obviously not capable of identifying even acute human rights violations. BASF reacts to abuses that are uncovered externally, for example by investigative journalism or authorities, but not through its own measures. This is clearly too late and far from sufficient, as a number of examples show:

China: Unclear handling of the risk of Uyghur forced labor in supply chains

Throughout the Chinese region of East Turkistan/Xinjiang, serious human rights violations such as forced labor in prison camps under the cruelest conditions have been widely documented. According to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Chinese government’s crimes against the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples could constitute crimes against humanity.

In early 2024, ZDF and Der Spiegel reported that employees of Xinjiang Markor, a joint venture partner of BASF, were involved in state surveillance of the population in the region.1 Just one year earlier, BASF had conducted an internal audit of the joint venture operations in the region, which, like previous audits, had not revealed any evidence of human rights violations.

Based on the new information, BASF has now announced that it will accelerate the sale of its own shares in the affected joint ventures in the region, which began at the end of 2023 “for strategic reasons”. However, it remains completely unclear whether and to what extent the supply chains to the other BASF sites are exposed to the risk of Uyghur forced labor. We cannot understand how BASF can fulfill its own human rights due diligence obligations with further audits, for example, especially since the new plant in Zhanjiang in southern China with potentially extensive supply chains does not have a joint venture partner.

Brazil: Working conditions similar to slave labor on two rice farms

In March 2023, state authorities in Uruguaiana, Brazil, found inhumane working conditions and child labor on two rice farms that produced seeds for BASF, which correspond to legally defined slave-like forced labor conditions. In this context, the Brazilian Ministry of Labor has described BASF as a “de facto employer”2, as the cooperation with the farms concerned went beyond a mere seed purchase agreement. The skilled personnel associated with BASF were also involved in the recruitment of workers.

BASF has now reacted; it is participating in compensation payments and has terminated the

contract with one of the two farms, as according to BASF “a constructive review of the incidents was not possible”. However, it remains unclear what consequences BASF will draw from this for risk analyses and preventive measures against human rights violations in Brazil’s agricultural sector in general, in which BASF is very active.

In addition, BASF is not an independent and credible controller in this context, particularly with regard to the use of pesticides: BASF continues to sell active ingredients worldwide, especially in Brazil, whose use is banned in the EU. Documents from the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture show, for example, that a fungicide manufactured by BASF based on epoxiconazole, a chemical banned in the EU, was used on two sugar plantations.3

Guatemala: BASF sources palm oil from NaturAceites

The Romero Initiative’s Palm Oil Report 2024 “Im Schatten der Ölpalme” [In the Shadow of the Oil Palm] reveals that BASF sources palm oil from NaturAceites.3F4 Research by ECCHR and others shows that there are regular violations of labor rights on this company’s plantations in Guatemala, including excessive work assignments, inadequate wages and the inability to form labor unions.5

Re agenda item 4: Discharge of the members of the Board of Executive Directors

The Association of Ethical Shareholders Germany proposes that the actions of the members of the Board of Executive Directors for the 2023 financial year not be approved.


BASF’s Board of Executive Directors continues to fail to adequately fulfill its human rights due diligence obligations.

South Africa: Living and working conditions at Sibanye-Stillwater remain degrading

BASF continues to purchase platinum from the South African mining company Sibanye-Stillwater, which took over the platinum company Lonmin. Lonmin was partly responsible for the Marikana massacre in 2012, when 34 striking miners were shot dead. After the massacre, those responsible also wanted to make lasting improvements to the precarious, sometimes inhumane living conditions in the mining communities. Following pressure from civil society to do further justice to its own supply chain responsibility, BASF also entered into an exchange with Sibanye-Stillwater and carried out audits.

The study “Warten auf Gerechtigkeit” [Waiting for Justice]6 showed in 2022 that working and living conditions in Marikana have hardly improved since then. Neither the mining companies nor the South African state have made an adequate contribution to improving the situation. The study highlights specific grievances and calls, among other things, for an end to cooperation with temporary employment agencies that circumvent labor regulations and do not pay a living wage. In the case of those wounded in the massacre, some of whom were paralyzed, they need healthcare for life. They and their families deserve support, as do the widows and families of the workers who were killed.

Recent reports show a lack of transparency, accountability and consultation with the Wonderkop community.7 For example, obligations under Sibanye-Stillwater’s current Social and Labor Plan (SLP) have not been fulfilled. The maintenance of workers’ housing is very poor, and the housing is tied to the employment contract without adequate information. Even employees who have worked for Lonmin and then Sibanye-Stillwater for more than 30 years are thrown out of their homes when they retire and cannot find alternative accommodation.

Furthermore, Sibanye-Stillwater does not respond adequately to the risk of health hazards from air and water pollution. The community has no access to current emissions data, and wastewater from mining operations runs unchecked into the local stream. The retention basin (tailings) required for mining is too close to the settlement and leaks are observed. A child died in 2023 in this basin, which was not properly cordoned off. Apart from a donation for the funeral, Sibanye-Stillwater has not yet paid any compensation to the family.

Russia: Sticking to controversial cooperation with Nornickel

At the end of 2020, indigenous groups from Russia and civil society organizations from around the world called on BASF to discontinue its business relationship and planned cooperation with raw materials supplier Nornickel until Nornickel demonstrably respects the rights of indigenous peoples affected by mining as well as environmental protection requirements.8

Since then, BASF has made it public that it is in regular contact with Nornickel in this regard. Even Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine, which violates international law, and clear indications of a further deterioration in the human rights situation in Russia, which makes independent on-site verification impossible, have not led BASF to rule out future supply contracts with Nornickel.

Thus, BASF does not exclude doing business with a company that indirectly pays hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes to Russia’s war economy, the basis for more and more violent crimes in Ukraine. BASF is also demonstrating that independent evidence of respect for indigenous rights is not a real condition for potentially doing business with BASF. In the current BASF Report 2023, the description of the dialogue with Nornickel reads as a preannounced potential due diligence violation (p. 160):“Nornickel continues to work on implementing management systems according to internationally recognized industry standards that enable third-party verification on mining and responsible sourcing, such as IRMA.The current conditions continue to impact our business relationship, although auditing to these standards is not currently possible.”9


1 https://www.zdf.de/nachrichten/wirtschaft/unternehmen/basf-uiguren-xinjiang-china-100.html

2 https://www.kooperation-brasilien.org/de/themen/menschenrechte-gesellschaft/brasiliens-arbeitsministerium-kein-rausreden-fuer-basf-im-falle-von-sklavenarbeit-als-blosser-abnehmer-sondern-de-facto-boss

 3 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/apr/25/eu-firms-accused-of-abhorrent-export-of-banned-pesticides-to-brazil

 4 https://www.ci-romero.de/produkt/report-im-schatten-der-oelpalme/

5 https://www.ecchr.eu/pressemitteilung/beschwerde-gegen-edeka-die-handelskette-taeuscht-verbraucher-mit-nachhaltigkeits-siegel/

6 https://www.brot-fuer-die-welt.de/fileadmin/mediapool/2_Downloads/Fachinformationen/Analyse/Analyse106-Marikana-Warten-auf-Gerechtigkeit.pdf

7 https://www.arte.tv/de/videos/118855-000-A/suedafrika-platinabbau-in-wonderkop/; https://communitymonitors.net/2024/01/the-southern-african-community-monitors-2023-edition/

8 https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/latest-news/nornickel-should-not-be-considered-a-viable-partner-open-letter-to-basf/

9 see page 160, https://report.basf.com/2023/en/_assets/downloads/entire-basf-ar23.pdf

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