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13 Sep 2016

James Wood, Legal Business (UK)

Report finds over half of world's largest co.s report on human rights issues

"The new risk front for GCs – nearly half of contracts have human rights clauses, LB research finds", 8 Sep 2016

When John Ruggie began his mandate as chief architect of the UN Global Compact in 2000, fewer than 100 of around 80,000 multinational corporations in the world were known to have policies in place to mitigate against human rights abuses. Since that time, the situation has changed dramatically. With the 2010 California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, the 2011 UN Guiding Principles, the 2011 modifications to the OECD Guidelines for Responsible Business and Human Rights, and the 2015 UK Modern Slavery Act, a significant fraction of the world's largest companies are now facing at least some form of obligation to disclose their performance. According to our survey of 275 GCs and senior counsel, the 46% of businesses now have a human rights policy in place. For companies in the $10bn+ revenue bracket, that figure rises to 84%. The research shows that the growing importance of these issues to business is changing the way GCs operate...Other key findings from the report include: Legal is now the most likely of all business functions to be assigned responsibility for human rights issues...Commercial contracts are bringing human rights issues to in-house teams' attention...[and] mandatory reporting laws and commercial contracts are leading legal teams to place greater scrutiny on supply chains...