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
Category Archives: Supply Chains
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
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
Tiffany & Company announced last week that it would become the world’s first jewelry company to share with its consumers information about the country of origin of each diamond they sell. This is the first in a step of transparency measures that the company is undertaking. By 2020, Tiffany hopes to provide its customers with information about where each diamond was cut,… More
The 2018 Corporate Human Rights Benchmark: Some Successes but Ongoing Challenges in Company Efforts to Advance Human Rights
On November 12, The Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) released the results of its 2018 Corporate Human Rights Benchmark. The 2018 Corporate Human Rights Benchmark assesses over 100 of the largest publicly traded multinational companies in the world on a set of key human rights indicators, including governance policies, remedies and grievance mechanisms, responding to serious allegations, due diligence, and transparency.
Established in 2013,… More
On September 26, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations approved the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 2200). The bill would reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. In July 2017, the House passed its version of H.R. 2200.
Of potential consequence for companies, Section 133 of H.R. 2200 would enhance the List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor that is issued and updated periodically by the Department of Labor’s International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB). … More
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: new guidance on compliance with North Korea-related sanctions laws; the release of the first annual report by the parties to the Dutch Banking Sector Agreement on International Responsible Business Conduct; and a new blog series on the “zero draft” of the proposed Treaty on Business and Human Rights.… More
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: the dismissal of a climate change lawsuit brought by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland; the launch of the Centre for Sport and Human Rights; and a new benchmarking report from Know the Chain.
- On June 18, Know the Chain published its second benchmarking report of information and communications technology (“ICT”) companies.…
On June 14, Foley Hoag LLP (“Foley Hoag”) will host the Massachusetts Export Center’s Export Regulatory Compliance Update. The event will feature a range of speakers addressing export compliance issues and regulatory trends, including representatives from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
Numerous attorneys from Foley Hoag will be speaking at the event. Representing the firm’s Corporate Social Responsibility practice,… More
The 2017 benchmarking report ranked 98 of the world’s largest publicly traded companies on their human rights performance using 100 specific performance indicators. The CHRB has focused on companies in the following three industry sectors: agriculture;… More
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: a new venture fund intended to support companies trying to increase transparency with regard to labor conditions in corporate supply chains; the launch of new principles on responsible corporate tax policy; and litigation alleging that a company’s failure to disclose human rights-related risks in its supply chain in its packaging is deceptive to consumers.… More
This week’s post includes: a lawsuit by the City of New York seeking compensation for the costs incurred as the result of climate change; a lawsuit in France alleging that a company’s statements regarding its ethical sourcing commitments are deceptive to consumers; and the establishment of a new Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise by the Government of Canada.… More
This week’s post includes: a revised Toolkit on National Action Plans on business and human rights; a new automobile industry initiative to address the social and environmental risks associated with raw materials sourcing; and a report from the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights on the efforts of internet platform companies to address content that incites terrorism or that represents politically motivated disinformation.… More
In Washington, D.C., the news this week focused on President Trump’s decision to designate (or redesignate) North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. For companies importing goods into the United States, developments this past August are likely to have more immediate impact.
On August 2, the United States enacted amendments to the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016. The amendments create a presumption that goods made by North Korean citizens or nationals,… More
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.
This week’s post includes: a new report from the U.N. Working Group on Business and Human Rights; a report evaluating corporate efforts to assess forced labor risks in sugarcane supply chains; and a revised report reviewing national action plans on business and human rights as issued by 18 countries.… More
On February 7, the Dutch Parliament adopted a bill that would require companies to conduct due diligence as to whether child labor is occurring in their own operations or in their supply chains.
The Dutch Senate is expected to review the bill in the coming months. If the bill is approved, further detail on the scope and applicability of the law’s requirements will likely be set forth through an administrative order.… More
This week’s post includes: an announcement by the Government of Australia that it will move forward with the development of a new “Modern Slavery Act”; new commitments by five companies to prohibit recruitment fees in their supply chains; and decision by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’… More
As previously noted, on February 21, 2017, the French National Assembly adopted a law establishing a “duty of vigilance” for large multinational firms carrying out all or part of their activity in France.
In a subsequent development, on March 23, the French Constitutional Council released a decision upholding the majority of the legislation, but striking down the proposed civil penalties for companies that fail to develop a diligence plan.… More
This week’s post includes: a decision by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice addressing a corporation’s “duty of care” with regard to the employees of its suppliers; new IBA guidance for lawyers on integrating business and human rights considerations into their advice to clients; and a report evaluating corporate conflict minerals filings for calendar year 2016.… More
This week’s post includes: the U.S. Government’s amicus brief in Jesner v. Arab Bank; a Declaration from the Leaders of the G20; and a commitment to renew the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.
- On June 27, the U.S.…
This week’s post includes: a new report on human rights litigation in U.S. federal courts; new guidelines on the E.U. directive on non-financial reporting; and the release of the U.S. State Department’s 2017 Trafficking in Persons report.
- On June 8, U.S. Customs and Border Protection published a final rule in the Federal Register amending existing customs regulations in order to to reflect the elimination of the consumptive demand exception,…
This week’s post includes: a new report on the state of corporate human rights reporting; the passage of a shareholder resolution on climate change at Occidental Petroleum; and the latest Ministerial Declaration from the Labour and Employment Ministers of the G20.
- On May 10,…
This week’s post includes: a jury verdict in the Quinteros v. DynCorp litigation; the latest GAO report on corporate conflict mineral disclosures; and a statement from the Scottish Parliament that investments agreements should only be signed after appropriate human rights due diligence.
- On March 29,…
On January 31, the Acting Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), Michael Piwowar, issued an call for comments with regard to the conflict minerals rule. The rule was originally adopted by the SEC in August 2012 and published in September 2012. It was drafted pursuant to Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act.
Sending a strong signal as to the rule’s potential fate,… More
Litigation Update: Plaintiffs Survive Motion to Dismiss in Case Involving Claims of Forced Labor in Corporate Supply Chains
Today, January 11, is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, and therefore a good time to revisit some recent litigation developments. On November 9, a date on which most of the American media was focused on the Presidential election results, there were significant developments in the Keo Ratha v. Phattana Seafood Co. litigation, a case involving allegations of human trafficking in corporate supply chains. The District Court for the Central District of California issued an order that will allow the case to go forward,… More
This week’s post includes: IHRB’s annual list of the Top 10 business and human rights issues for the coming year; the latest benchmarking report from Know the Chain focused on apparel and footwear companies; and the release of a reference annex to the IBA Practical Guide on Business and Human Rights for Business Lawyers.… More
This week’s post includes: new reports on the corporate responsibility to respect human rights; a report on sustainability disclosures in corporate filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”); a draft law in France that would require companies to conduct human rights due diligence; and developments in human rights litigation against Chiquita.… More
This week’s post includes: the first annual report from the U.K. Anti-Slavery Commissioner; a new benchmarking report from Know the Chain focused on food and beverage companies; and the results of a survey on corporate human rights due diligence efforts.
- On October 12,…
This week’s post includes: an important decision by the Supreme Court of British Columbia with regard to a case raising forced labor concerns; the release of the U.S. Department of Labor’s most recent List of Goods Produced by Child Labor and Forced Labor;… More
This week’s post includes: the GAO’s latest report on the conflict minerals rule; a civil society report on the SEC’s efforts to modernize financial disclosure requirements; and an independent impact assessment of the Better Work Programme.
- At the end of August, the U.S.…
This week’s post includes: an announcement by the International Criminal Court regarding the potential for the prosecution of crimes based on environmental harm and land grabs; the lifting of sanctions on Burma and the end of the Burma Reporting Requirements on Responsible Investment; and new attention to the operational and reputational risks associated with global shipping.… More
This week’s post includes: litigation developments in cases that address the “Social Cost of Carbon,” the liability of interactive media service providers, and human trafficking in corporate supply chains; and a new global ranking of countries according to the relative risk of human trafficking and forced labor.… More
This week’s post includes: a new report from the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression; reviews of the latest round of conflict minerals reports; corporate efforts to address the risks of sex and labor trafficking in connection with the Olympic Games;… More
This week’s post includes: a new guide for business lawyers from the International Bar Association that seeks to promote implementation of the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; the public release of Know the Chain’s first report benchmarking technology companies on efforts to address forced labor in their supply chains;… More
On June 15, the European Union announced that it had reached a “political understanding” on many of the substantive components of a new conflict minerals regulation. The regulation, once drafted, will be submitted to the European Parliament and Council for adoption. The final regulation will be applicable to all E.U. member states.
The European Union has been engaged in a multi-year process of negotiation and deliberation regarding the sourcing of conflict minerals.… More
This post was originally published on The Huffington Post.
Five years ago today, on June 16, 2011, the way we view the human rights responsibilities of companies changed. On that day, the United Nations Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the “Guiding Principles”). This endorsement could have gone unnoticed except by those in the room at the time,… More
This week’s post includes: new guidance for boards of directors on business and human rights; the launch of the Responsible Sourcing Tool; the release of the 2016 Global Slavery Index; and a new code of conduct in Europe by which American Internet companies have committed to taking actions to combat illegal hate speech.… More
President Obama signed the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 into law in February of this year. In doing so, he eliminated the “consumptive demand exception,” a long-standing loophole in the general prohibition against the importation of goods made with forced labor.
U.S. law has long prohibited the import of “goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in any foreign country by convict labor or/and forced labor.” The consumptive demand exception allowed companies to import goods produced with forced labor if the “consumptive demand” for those goods in the United States exceeded the capacity of domestic production.… More
This week’s post includes: new private and public initiatives on recruitment fees, including a proposal to further amend the U.S. Government’s Federal Acquisition Regulation to provide a clear definition of such fees; the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by victims of the Rana Plaza factory collapse;… More
This week’s post includes: developments on mandatory disclosure requirements in both the United States and Europe; a new report from Professor John Ruggie addressing the human rights responsibilities of FIFA; and an update from Oxfam on its “Behind the Brands” campaign.
- On April 14,…
This week’s post includes: the first reports published pursuant to the requirements of the U.K. Modern Slavery Act; an overview of social and environmental shareholder proposals filed for the 2016 proxy season; and a new effort to benchmark technology companies on their policies and practices with regard to forced labor in their supply chains.… More
On March 21, the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (“CHRB”) released the methodology that it will use to rank 100 companies on their human rights performance as part of an initial pilot. The companies chosen for the pilot include members of the extractive, apparel, and agricultural sectors.
Earlier this year, the CHRB announced the list of companies that it will assess as part of the pilot effort.… More
This week’s post includes: Apple’s refusal to comply with a federal court order; a new report highlighting the most pressing business and human rights challenges facing companies today; and an evaluation of corporate compliance with the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act.
- Apple made headlines this week when it announced that it would not comply with a federal court order requiring the company to assist the FBI in unlocking the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters.…
On February 11, the U.S. Senate passed the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act and President Obama is expected to sign the legislation this week. A key provision in the Act eliminates the “consumptive demand exception,” a long-standing loophole in the prohibition against the importation into the United States of goods made with forced labor.
Pursuant to the consumptive demand exception, companies have been able to import goods produced with forced labor if the “consumptive demand”… More
Companies are increasingly being required to disclose how they assess and respond to the risks of human trafficking in their product supply chains. Statutes like the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act and the U.K. Modern Slavery Act require such disclosures. In addition, certain U.S. federal contractors are now required to develop detailed compliance plans to address the risks of trafficking associated with the good and services they provide to the U.S.… More
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.… More
A District Court judge in California has dismissed a complaint against Nestlé USA Inc. and Nestlé Purina Petcare Co. (together “Nestlé”) which argued that the company was obligated to inform consumers that seafood in its catfood products may have been sourced from forced labor. Plaintiffs alleged violations of the California Unfair Competition Law, the Legal Remedies Act, and the California False Advertising Law.
Specifically, plaintiffs stated that they would not have purchased the company’s products if they had been informed that the seafood in those products was linked to forced labor,… More
The transparency provisions of the U.K. Modern Slavery Act went into effect on October 29. At the same time, the U.K. Government has released guidance for companies seeking to comply with the Act.
As previously discussed, the transparency provisions of the Act are applicable to companies that do any part of their business in the United Kingdom if they have annual gross worldwide revenues of £36 million (approximately $56 million) or more each year.… More
Companies face a range of new requirements and expectations calling for enhanced transparency regarding human rights-related risks in connection with their operations. Responsible compliance with both mandatory requirements and voluntary standards requires a coordinated internal approach that seeks to address the concerns of key stakeholders while mitigating potential legal risks.
Examples of new transparency requirements include:
This week’s post includes notice of several new lawsuits regarding human rights concerns in corporate supply chains as well as coverage of the European Court of Justice’s recent decision to strike down the 15-year old “Safe Harbor” agreement allowing companies to self-certify that their data transfers between the United States and Europe are in compliance with E.U.… More
In late July, Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced H.R. 3226, the Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2015. The bill, if passed, would require companies to file annual reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) disclosing their efforts to identify and address specific human rights risks in their supply chains. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) is expected to introduce a companion bill in the Senate.… More
It has been nearly a month since the deadline for companies in the United States to file their second annual conflict minerals reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission. As companies and their stakeholders assess the strength of their compliance efforts and public disclosures, many are also watching developments in Europe with regard to due diligence on conflict minerals.
At the conclusion of the G7 Summit held on June 7 and 8, the assembled leaders released a declaration endorsing the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Specifically, leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan stated that
We strongly support the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and welcome the efforts to set up substantive National Action Plans.… More
In March, President Obama issued Executive Order 13693, “Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade.” It replaces and updates a number of Executive Orders and Memorandums, most notably replacing Executive Order 3514, “Federal Leadership In Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance,” issued by President Obama in 2009.
The new Order provides federal agencies with a series of targets and deadlines through 2025,… More
The State of California has recently stepped up enforcement of the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, which went into effect on January 1, 2012. The California Department of Justice has also issued new guidance on compliance with the legislation.
In April 2015, the Department of Justice sent out letters to certain retailers and manufacturers regarding compliance with the transparency legislation. The letters requested the companies to provide,… More
Frequently Asked Questions on the U.S. Government’s National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct
On February 12, the U.S. Department of State released a set of “Frequently Asked Questions” (“FAQs”) with regard to the U.S. Government’s efforts to develop a National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct. The plan is expected to be released by the end of this year.
As announced in September, the U.S. Government is working on a National Action Plan “to promote and incentivize responsible business conduct,… More
On January 29, the U.S. Government released a final rule establishing new anti-human trafficking requirements for U.S. government contractors. The rule amends the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) and seeks to strengthen the FAR’s existing prohibitions and requirements related to trafficking in persons.
Earlier this month, the U.K. Home Office announced that a measure requiring public reporting by British companies would be included in the Modern Slavery Bill that is currently being considered by the House of Commons. The Modern Slavery Bill is expected to be enacted before the next general election in May 2015.