New U.S. Policy, Same Human Rights Expectations: Companies Sourcing from the Western Sahara Are Still Obligated to Respect International Law

On December 10, 2020, President Trump formally announced that the Government of Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco will normalize their bilateral relationship, marking the fourth Arab country that recognizes Israel as a result of the Abraham Accords. Over the coming months, the new agreement will allow the two countries to resume full diplomatic relations, increase cooperation on security and economic matters, and open up regular flights between Morocco and Israel.… More

SEC Issues Controversial New Rule on Payment Transparency in the Natural Resource Sector

On December 16, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a new regulation that revises and reinstitutes a previously-repealed SEC regulation to implement Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act.

The new rule is the culmination (for now) of a long process to implement the ten-year old Section 1504, which Congress included in Dodd-Frank with the intent of making payments to foreign governments by oil, gas, and mining companies more transparent.… More

CBP Modifies WRO After Brazilian Co. Demonstrates Compliance with Forced Labor Regulations

On December 7, 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) modified an existing Withhold Release Order (WRO) on bone black produced in Brazil by Bonechar Carvão Ativado do Brasil Ltda (Bonechar). As a result of this change, Bonechar-produced bone black is now admissible at all U.S. ports of entry, effective December 4, 2020. Bone black is charcoal made from animal bones which has multiple industrial purposes, including filtration.… More

European Union Approves Global Magnitsky-Style Human Rights Sanctions Regime

In a landmark development, the European Union’s Foreign Ministers on December 8 approved an “Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy” that establishes a new mechanism for targeting systematic violators of human rights from any country in the world. The human rights community has colloquially termed the Action Plan “Europe’s Global Magnitsky Act”, an homage to the U.S. Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act that was passed by a wide bipartisan margin in Congress and signed into law by former President Obama at the end of his administration.… More

Australia’s Two Modern Slavery Acts

The Australian Government has launched an online register that publishes companies’ statements on their compliance with the country’s Federal Modern Slavery Act of 2018. The website, which is searchable and available to the public, marks the first government-run website tracking companies’ compliance with efforts to eradicate modern slavery. Unlike comparable legislation passed recently in other jurisdictions, including the U.K. Modern Slavery Act of 2015, Australia’s Act makes reporting mandatory within six months of a company’s fiscal year-end.… More

As the United States Targets China’s Human Rights Abuses, Companies Should Prepare for Stricter Due Diligence on Forced Labor

As the United States seeks to take more forceful action punishing China for its escalating human rights abuses against Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang autonomous region and the citizens of Hong Kong, international businesses whose supply chains intersect with China should be prepared for new legislation and regulatory enforcement that could result in penalties. Companies will need to take additional steps to ensure their due diligence processes account for potential human rights risks associated with forced labor in Xinjiang and elsewhere in the country.… More

Toward a Credible and Universal Concept of Rights: How Racial Injustice in America Affects U.S. Human Rights Practices Abroad

The Murder of George Floyd on May 25th by a white Minneapolis police officer did not happen in a vacuum. It was not an aberration in an “otherwise functioning” justice system. Countless black men and women in America have suffered similar fates at the hands of a criminal justice apparatus that often sees black people as material threats before seeing them as human. Floyd’s death is just the most recent symptom implicating a justice system in the United States that many experts and activists consider out of control,… More

COVID-19 and Global Human Rights: Shifting Priorities for Governments, Civil Society, and Companies

The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most significant global public health crises since the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-20. The spread of the Coronavirus through every continent and major metropolis has led to unprecedented policy responses from governments both large and small. As a result, the human rights community is more closely scrutinizing the impact of these responses, while many company operations are more likely to overlap with the pandemic and evolving government policy in some way.… More

Trump Administration’s Proposed Prosecution of Pipeline Opponents: Weighing Human Rights Obligations and Congressional Support

The Trump Administration is using the reauthorization of a pipeline safety statute as an opening to insert new provisions that would give U.S. authorities broader latitude to thwart and criminalize the activities of protestors opposing hydrocarbon pipeline projects.  The provision would apply to both existing pipelines and those that are under construction, with at least the partial intent of targeting large-scale protests that have encircled construction of oil transport infrastructure projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL Pipeline.… More

Pioneering Dutch Law Raises Global Standards for Eliminating Child Labor in Supply Chains – Understanding the Dimensions of Compliance

The Dutch Senate recently adopted the Child Labour Due Diligence Act, a new measure with far reaching implications for the sourcing, manufacturing, and consumption of products that contain inputs from the bodies of child laborers.

The new law is the product of protracted negotiations that have taken place over several years in the Dutch Parliament.  The Dutch House of Representatives approved the legislation in February 2017 with 82 of the chamber’s 150 Members of Parliament in favor. … More