Parliamentary Briefing: A UK 'Business, Human Rights and Environment Act'
Parliamentary Briefing: A UK ‘Business, Human Rights and Environment Act’, 14 November 2022
Summary and recommendations
- We urgently need a new UK law to hold companies to account when they fail to prevent human rights abuses and environmental harms in their global value chains.
- A new law is called for by UK civil society organisations, businesses, investors, and more than 125,000 people in the UK who have signed a petition. YouGov polling shows four in five people in Britain want new laws to make sure businesses stamp out environmental damage and exploitative practices in their supply chains.
- It would align with advances being made in many other countries, would help the UK to deliver its “Global Britain” vision to "act as a force for good in standing up for human rights around the world" and demonstrate its renewed leadership on business and human rights.
- A new law would provide a stronger, overarching framework for tackling irresponsible business conduct across all internationally recognised human rights and environmental harms, including those tied to public procurement, that would complement and go beyond existing sectoral or issue-specific legislation approaches, while reducing the overall compliance burden for business.
- To be effective, a new UK law must: include a duty to prevent harm; mandate all companies to undertake ‘human rights and environmental due diligence’ across their supply and value chains, including all business relationships, and; hold companies liable when they fail to prevent harm, providing access to justice for victims and placing the burden of proof – proving that they did all they reasonably could to prevent harm - on companies.
- A UK law should be modelled on the world-leading ‘failure to prevent’ model of the 2010 Bribery Act - as already recommended by Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights and identified as legally feasible by the British Institute of International and Comparative Law.
- We urge you to express your support in Parliament at every available opportunity, to ask questions, join debates and sign motions/pledges in support of this call.