It’s Friday and time for another overview of developments in the field of business and human rights that we’ve been monitoring.
This week’s post includes: recent developments with regard to a major Alien Tort Statute case; the announcement of a pilot effort to benchmark corporate human rights performance; and a major new report demonstrating the potential links between anti-corruption compliance programs and effort to eradicate labor trafficking in corporate supply chains.
- The U.S. Supreme Court denied defendants’ petition for a writ of certiorari in an Alien Tort Statute case filed against Nestle USA, Archer Daniels Midland, and Cargill. Plaintiffs allege that the companies aided and abetted child slavery in the Ivory Coast in connection with the sourcing of cocoa. The Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari means that a September 2014 ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, refusing to dismiss plaintiffs’ claims and allowing the case to go forward, stands. The litigation will now proceed in federal district court in California.
- The Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (“CHRB”) announced the list of companies that it will assess as part of a pilot effort to rank 100 companies on their human rights performance. The companies chosen for the pilot include members of the extractive, apparel, and agricultural sectors. The CHRB was launched in 2014 by the Institute for Business and Human Rights, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Aviva Investors, Calvert Investments, EIRIS, and VBDO. Its goal is to rank companies from around the globe and to make corporate human rights performance easier to understand for a wide range of audiences including investors, consumers, and policy-makers.
- The Global Network Initiative (“GNI”) recently announced that Millicom, Nokia, Orange, Telefónica, Telenor Group, TeliaSonera, and Vodafone Group have become formal observers within the multi-stakeholder initiative. Current corporate members of GNI, which focuses on protection of the rights of privacy and free expression, include Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Facebook, and LinkedIn. The intent is for the companies to become full members of GNI in 2017, which will include participation in GNI’s independent assessment process. Each of the telco companies joining GNI had previously been a participant in the Telecommunications Industry Dialogue which formed a two-year partnership with GNI in 2013.
- The Consumer Goods Forum, a global industry association of manufacturers, service providers, retailers, and other stakeholders, announced a Social Resolution on Forced Labor by which members announced a commitment to eradicating forced labor from their value chains. The Resolution stated that corporate efforts would include the development of action plans aligned with the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
- Liberty Asia and The Freedom Fund released a set of reports demonstrating the extensive links between modern slavery and corruption. The reports also explored the potential for corporate liability under the Foreign Corruption Practices Act in connection with abusive labor recruitment practices at various points along corporate supply chains.