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2 Nov 2023

Danish Institute for Human Rights

EU: Danish Institute for Human Rights argues European forced labour ban should take a human rights-based approach & align with the Due Diligence Directive

"Setting the scene for an effective forced labour ban in the EU"

This paper analyses the plans of the European Union for a forced labour ban that would prohibit the placing of products made with forced labour on the common market as well as the export of such products. It addresses concerns and provides recommendations for effective legislation following a human rights-based approach.

The European Union is in the process of developing new legislation to address the challenge of forced labour along global value chains by banning products made with forced labour from the common market. Following a Proposal for a Regulation by the European Commission in September 2022, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union are in the process of adopting their own positions. To contribute to the discussion, this paper analyses the Proposal by the European Commission, responds to several concerns, and provides recommendations drawing on comparable legislation in the United States and other authoritative sources.

The paper argues that an EU Forced Labour Ban should inter alia:

  • Align with the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, currently at the trilogue negotiation stage, to harness synergy effects and ensure that the laws are mutually reinforcing.
  • Take a human rights-based approach with a view to improve the situation of victims of forced labour.
  • Provide sufficient incentives for companies, first, to cooperate proactively with Competent Authorities and stakeholders and, second, to adequately address identified cases of forced labour.
  • Ensure effective enforcement, which requires in particular that companies bear the burden of proof that goods are not made by forced labour where these products stem from a high-risk area.

The publication aims both to inform public debate and to facilitate the regulatory developments at the EU level. It is of relevance to policy makers and civil society. [...]