UK: Update - 49 businesses sign statement calling for human rights due diligence legislation
CALLING FOR A NEW UK LAW MANDATING HUMAN RIGHTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL DUE DILIGENCE FOR COMPANIES AND INVESTORS
"We, the undersigned, as leading businesses, investors, business associations and initiatives operating in the UK, encourage the government to play a positive role in building a more resilient and sustainable post-pandemic economy that works for all. To realise this ambition, we call on the government to introduce a new legal requirement for companies and investors to carry out human rights and environmental due diligence. Such a requirement to prevent abuse of human rights and environmental harm in global operations and value chains would deliver on the government's commitments to the levelling up agenda and to the transition to a net zero economy, as well as establishing Global Britain as a leader in setting standards for renewed and sustainable prosperity worldwide.
The COVID-19 crisis demonstrated the fragility of global supply chains, and the vulnerabilities this creates and exacerbates for workers, communities, indigenous peoples and businesses around the world. There is a real risk that recent progress will be reversed. For example, the number of children in child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide – an increase of 8.4 million children between 2016 and 2020 – with millions more at risk due to the impacts of COVID-19, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF’s Child Labour Global Estimates 2020.
As we recover and rebuild, we recognise the need for new binding standards which benefit all and promote sustainability. Mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence is key to ensure that efforts by companies that respect people and the planet, both during and after the COVID-19 recovery, are not undercut by the lack of a uniform standard of conduct applying to all business actors.
Some companies are already taking steps to implement due diligence processes in line with the corporate responsibility to respect human rights as outlined by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. However, more companies need to assess, act and report on their potential and actual impacts on human rights and the environment. Legislation introducing an obligation to conduct due diligence as defined by the UNGPs and covering all business actors is critical to bring all companies to the same standard and build on progress to date..."