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Commentary: Six years of the UK Modern Slavery Act demonstrates the need to move beyond supply chain transparency and towards human rights due diligence

“Six Years of the UK Modern Slavery Act: Reconsidering Supply Chain Regulation and Moving Beyond Transparency”, 26 March 2021

Today marks the sixth anniversary that the UK Modern Slavery Act (MSA) was enacted into law …

In a recent report, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) concludes that most companies publish vague statements … [and do not] identify, prevent and mitigate labour rights abuses in operations and supply chains in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights...

That the MSA has failed to result in a significant change in corporate behaviour, beyond a proliferation of policies, commitments and audits, is not a surprise to anyone…

A failure to prevent human rights and environmental harms law has been proposed by stakeholders in the UK. The proposed law would impose a duty to prevent harm, rather than simply expect a level of human rights due diligence. Where a company fails to prevent harmful human rights (or environmental) impact, it could be held to account and potentially face civil and criminal liability…

In carrying out the necessary due diligence to prevent human and labour rights harms, companies should consider the full spectrum of labour exploitation…

It is important that we not rely on any single legal framework as a solution to tackling this very complex issue. Instead, we must take a multifaceted approach that considers immigration, criminal, corporate and employment laws among others…