Five on Friday – Five Recent Developments that We’ve Been Watching Closely

iStock_000011057325XSmallIt’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 a number of new guidance documents and tools, including materials on: the elimination of recruitment fees; assurance efforts with regard to human rights reporting and performance; and the development of social compliance systems.

  • In September, a draft version of the Responsible Recruitment Toolkit was released for public comment. The Toolkit is a guidance document intended to help companies eliminate recruitment fees in their supply chains and specifically aims to help companies operate consistently with the “employer pays” principle, whereby no worker is required to pay for a job and the costs of recruitment are borne by employers. The guide provides detailed information on the types of fees that workers may be subject to, and addresses the types of remedies that should be implemented in instances when workers have been negatively impacted by the charging of recruitment fees. The final version of the Toolkit will be released in 2018. Organizations that supported the development of the guidance document include the Association of Labour Providers, the Institute for Human Rights and Business, the International Organisation for Migration, Clearview, Stronger Together, and Fast Forward.
  • On September 13, a coalition of civil society organizations and business and human rights experts released an open letter to the U.N. Secretary-General and participants in the United Nations Private Sector Forum, urging them to ensure that respect for human rights remains an integral part of efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”). The letter observes that “[b]usiness responsibility for respecting human rights is too often viewed only as a matter of compliance and risk management, distinct from initiatives seen as more innovative, leadership-oriented and transformative” and warns against approaches to the SDGs that “simply re-package existing commitments, or which focus only on goals that are convenient to existing interests and initiatives.” Signatories to the letter include the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, Oxfam International, and the Danish Institute for Human Rights, the Institute for Human Rights and Business, and Shift.
  • On September 19, the Human Rights Reporting and Assurance Frameworks Initiative (“RAFI”) released new Assurance Guidance with regard to human rights performance and reporting. The release of the Assurance Guidance comes two years after RAFI released the U.N. Guiding Principles Reporting Framework, previously discussed here. The guidance is intended to support the work of both internal and external assurance providers seeking to assess corporate human rights performance or assure human rights performance. It includes practical guidance on the scope of an assurance process and the types of indicators that may be relevant to an evaluation of the effectiveness of a company’s human rights-related policies and processes. RAFI is led by Shift, an non-profit organization dedicated to business and human rights , and Mazars, an international accounting firm.
  • On September 19, the International Labour Organization, the Walk Free Foundation, and the International Organization for Migration released Global Estimates of Modern Slavery – Forced Labour and Forced Marriage, a report that includes new data on the prevalence of modern slavery worldwide. The report estimates that 40.3 million people are victims of modern slavery, with approximately 25 million engaged in forced labor and 15 million in forced marriages. It also estimates that 16 million people are victims of forced labor linked to private actors, with 50% of those victims working in situations of debt bondage. Finally, researchers found that construction, manufacturing, and agriculture and fishing represented the sectors in which instances of forced labor are the highest.
  • On September 20, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (“ILAB”) released a new mobile application, Comply Chain: Business Tools for Labor Compliance in Global Supply ChainsThe tool is intended to help companies develop strong social compliance systems able to identify and address the risks of forced labor and child labor in their supply chains. The app builds upon previously released materials while also incorporating new guidance and resources.

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