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23 Feb 2022

BHRCC, CJC, the TUC, Oxfam and 27 other UK civil society organisations

Civil society statement: the urgent need for a new UK law on business and human rights

UK parliament

'The urgent need for a new UK law on business and human rights- a ‘Business, Human Rights and Environment Act’', 23 February 2022

"The UK was once a pioneer on business and human rights. But now, the UK is clearly falling behind other countries in its duty to protect our human rights and environment from corporate abuse. The UK was the first country to develop a ‘Business and Human Rights National Action Plan’ based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and one of the first to pass a domestic supply chain law, in the form of S.54 of the Modern Slavery Act. The clear next step for the Government, following a year where it has chaired the G7 and COP26, is to show global leadership by introducing a new law to require companies to conduct human rights and environmental due diligence in order to prevent and mitigate the risks that they pose to rights – as called for by the universally approved Guiding Principles.

This law, which we refer to as UK ‘Business, Human Rights and Environment Act’ must also include legal liability for harm - modelled on the UK Bribery Act’s ‘failure to prevent approach’ as already recommended by Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights - to ensure access to remedy for victims of abuses.

We are encouraged that the Government now says that it: “...would need to be persuaded that any proposals to mandate supply chain due diligence in UK law are practical, proportionate and would deliver tangible improvements to the protection of people’s rights in the UK and elsewhere in the world.” And we stand ready to work with the UK Government and Parliament to help develop the practical and effective new law called for by civil society, business and the UK public..."