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26 Mär 2020

Robert McCorquodale, Cambridge Core blog (U.K.)

UK: New report recommends introducing law on corporate duty to prevent human rights harm

"Coporate Duty to Prevent Human Rights Impacts – A Way Forward for UK Legislation?," 12 March 2020

In the past few years there have been a range of national legislation and proposed legislation seeking to create corporate accountability for the human rights impacts of their activities. This has included the French Duty of Vigilance Act 2017 and the Dutch Child Labour Due Diligence Act 2019, as well as the proposed Swiss Responsible Business Initiative. In addition, there has been actions at the European Union and United Nations levels towards creating binding legal instruments in this area.

...In relation to the UK, there has been significant criticism of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, ... There has also been concerted pressure by civil society for the UK government to bring in legislation to cover all human rights impacted by corporate activities...

...We recommend that the Government should bring forward legislation to impose a duty on all companies to prevent human rights abuses...

...An adoption by the UK Parliament of the approach recommended by this study, by which companies have a duty to prevent human rights (and environmental) impacts with liability if they fail in this duty, would be a powerful acknowledgement of the need to make companies accountable for these impacts, which affect millions in the UK and worldwide. It would also be consistent with both developments at the regional and international levels, and with existing UK law and the UK legal system....