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25 May 2021

Bangladesh: Business & human rights academics call on Bangladesh Accord signatory cos. to renew Accord

"Open Statement Concerning the Need to Renew the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety", 25 May 2021

We are legal practitioners and academics, and experts on business and human rights and corporate social responsibility, concerned about the strong risk that the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (The Bangladesh Accord) is to expire without renewal or replacement on 31 May 2021.

... On signing the Bangladesh Accord, brands and retailers accepted legally binding obligations to comply with the Accord’s provisions, including requiring their suppliers to participate in an inspection and remediation programme, and to ensure that remediation is financially feasible.

... Since it began, the Bangladesh Accord has created trust among workers, has helped prevent accidents and protected workers dismissed unfairly for raising safety concerns. Global union federations, who are also Accord signatories, are able to bring charges against brands and retailers that fail to fulfil commitments under the Bangladesh Accord, which has led to two cases being brought to the Permanent Court of Arbitration and resulted in effective settlements to upgrade factory remediation.

... The Bangladesh Accord is an excellent example of how businesses can help operationalise the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) through the use of remediation measures and by introducing a non-judicial grievance mechanism ... It would be a very negative step for the participating businesses, many of which have developed human rights policies based on the UNGPs, to let this historic instrument fall by the wayside. They must act now to adopt a successor agreement that replicates, and improves upon, the Bangladesh Accord model.