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6 May 2022

Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

G7: Sustainable value chains – Success factors for an internationally accepted binding standard

6 May 2022


Thank you for the opportunity to participate. I am pleased to be able to present to you the recommendations of my Office’s report on how to achieve more sustainable value chains, as requested by the German Presidency of the G7.

The human rights impacts of global supply chains are clear: the use of precarious and informal employment is expanding at a rapid rate. Workers, especially migrant workers, are becoming ever more vulnerable, subject to a raft of human rights violations at the hands of their employers.

 This vulnerability has been further compounded by rising inequalities within borders, by the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, as mentioned by the Minister, and by shrinking civic space.

Instead of sitting back and watching, we have a window of opportunity. There could not be a more important moment for the G7 and other key international actors to demonstrate vision and leadership...

...Accelerating efforts to advance implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in global supply chains is a crucial step forward to do this...

...G7 leadership has the power to push for a steep increase in policy coherence. You have the influence to insist that international standards of responsible business conduct are adhered to, including in regulatory reform. You have the capacity to support measures to complement regulatory approaches; and to take the lead in development cooperation, assistance and finance; in private sector sustainable finance initiatives; and in investment and trade policy.

It is time to leverage that influence...

...This is where the G7 can play a crucial role. It can welcome and support further legislative developments on business and human rights.

Crucially, G7 member States can work individually and collectively to ensure that legislative momentum reflects the transformative nature of the UNGPs.

Legislation must push companies to proactively understand and identify their adverse impacts. It must not disincentivize the impetus to address impacts which they do not cause or contribute to. It must not incentivize reliance on only contractual arrangements with compliance audits.

 Our experience over the last two decades tells us that does not make a real difference in the lives of people.

Continued business, investor and NGO support for legislation in the area of business and human rights will depend on its alignment with the transformative power of the three pillars of the UNGPs. For this reason, we urgently need to also advance on implementing the UNGPs’ third pillar - access to remedy - where we face a continued lack of widespread, concrete progress.

On behalf of the millions of people adversely affected by business practices and operations, we have a responsibility to accelerate action. My Office’s Accountability and Remedy Project reports contain important recommendations in this regard.

I also encourage G7 member States to work together and individually to support small and medium sized enterprises. They too need guidance and support on challenges they face in pursuing their responsibility to respect human rights. As proposed by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, G7 member States can coordinate with other States and the EU to create a capacity-building facility for all stakeholders to support SMEs in meeting their human rights commitments....