Nine months after the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) went into effect, the Biden Administration shows no signs of easing up on its tenacious enforcement of the Act’s import ban. At the same time, the Administration’s approach is still developing and it will take more data collection, multi-stakeholder information sharing, as well as insights from U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) own shipment reviews before industry sees a more predictable and stable enforcement regime.… More
Category Archives: Uncategorized
New U.S Legislation Would Require Forced Labor Audits
On February 3, Senators Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the Slave-Free Business Certification Act of 2022. The legislation aims to provide U.S. policymakers with greater assurances that companies are taking concrete steps to eradicate forced labor where their supply chains directly involve workers’ inputs, but would also significantly increase their due diligence burdens. Pursuant to the legislation, covered business enterprises would be required to conduct independent audits of their “direct” supply chains to determine if they involve forced labor.… More
Possible International Trade Consequences of Further Escalation of Conflict in Ukraine
- The U.S., EU, and UK are coordinating a significant sanctions and export controls package to be implemented if Russia takes further action in Ukraine.
- Restrictions are likely to target key Russian industries including finance, energy, and defense and would be far more severe and far-reaching than past sanctions.
- New export controls could include restrictions on foreign-produced items made using U.S.-origin technology or software,…
Proposed Legislation in New York Aims to Set New Standards for Worker Rights and Environmental Sustainability in Fashion Industry
On January 7, New York State Senator Alessandra Biaggi (D) and Assemblywoman Anna R. Kelles (D) introduced the Fashion Sustainability Act into the New York State Legislature. If passed and signed into law, the Act would create significant reporting requirements related to environmental sustainability, social development (in particular worker rights), and ethical business (ESG) standards for retailers and manufacturers. In all, the legislation would include enforcement “teeth” in the form of monetary and reputational penalties for industry non-compliance.… More
Ending Forced Labor in Xinjiang: A New Standard for Importers & Corporate Due Diligence
On December 23, 2021, President Biden signed into law a landmark piece of legislation that prohibits the importation of goods from an entire region due to the high risk of severe forced labor abuses there. The legislation – the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (H.R. 6256) – has been a congressional work in progress for several years and comes after multiple iterations failed to advance.
The Act was passed with overwhelming support from both Republicans and Democrats,… More
New CBP Withhold Release Order Again Targets Forced Labor in the Seafood Industry
On August 4, 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) released a Withhold Release Order (“WRO”) on tuna and other seafood harvested by the Hangton No. 112, a Fijian flagged and owned longliner fishing vessel. According to CBP, information discovered during its investigation reasonably indicated that such seafood was harvested with forced labor. As a result of this WRO, all tuna and other seafood sourced from the Hangton No. 112 fishing vessel will be blocked from entry into the U.S.… More
Congress A Step Closer to Making Corporate ESG Disclosure Mandatory
On June 16, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would impose new ESG due diligence and disclosure requirements on publicly traded companies. H.R. 1187 – the ESG Disclosure Simplification Act of 2021 – would require publicly traded companies to disclose their commitments to ensuring that environmental, social (human rights), and good governance standards (ESG) are reflected in their operations, activities, and supply chains.
The Legislation’s Impact on ESG Due Diligence and Disclosure
Watch Now: ESG – What You Need to Know About the Rapidly Evolving Disclosure Landscape
As anticipated, the pace of change around the Climate and broader ESG landscape is accelerating rapidly. In this timely webinar, we discussed:
- The multiple market developments leading towards a rationalized corporate reporting system
- The role of the board and governance around the ESG agenda
- Practical steps to navigate the changing ESG landscape
New E.U. Measure on Environmental and Human Rights Due Diligence Has Far-Reaching Implications for Companies Operating in Europe and Beyond
On March 10, 2021, the European Parliament approved a legislative measure by an overwhelming 504-79 majority that paves the way for a landmark set of regulations setting a corporate duty of care regarding environmental protection and sustainability, internationally recognized human rights principles, and good governance practices – collectively referred to as ESG standards. Although the Parliament’s measure is not legally binding, it is expected that the European Commission will adopt regulations in general accordance with Parliament’s legislative measure by the end of the year.… More
Watch Now: Beyond Compliance: Privacy, Artificial Intelligence, and the Ethical Implications for Businesses
Rapidly-shifting regulatory requirements affecting data privacy often leave businesses struggling not only to keep up with immediate compliance needs, but also wondering how they can “future proof” their businesses to account for increasingly robust laws. And as the technology around artificial intelligence increases in sophistication and ubiquity, lawmakers and consumers are taking notice and action. How should businesses be thinking about these changes beyond mere compliance? What are the ethical implications around data use affecting how individuals and regulators are thinking about data use?… More
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
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
Modernizing the Modern Slavery Act: Parliamentary Review Commission Issues Second Report on 2015 UK Law
On January 22, an independent commission of three parliamentarians established to review the UK’s Modern Slavery Act released the second of four installments of its report suggesting amendments and improvements to the 2015 law. This installment of the report covers compliance with the Act and quality of the modern slavery statements companies subject to the law are required to submit. The UK Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability,… More
Companies issue statement supporting civic freedoms and the rule of law
Following the publication of a landmark report this September that makes the case for businesses to secure “the shared space” in which enterprises and civil society both operate, last month a group of eight leading organizations released a statement supporting civic freedoms, human rights defenders, and the rule of law. The statement, which is signed by companies including Unilever, Adidas and AngloAmerican, recognizes human rights defenders as “important partners in identifying risks or problems in our business activities” and call on governments to ensure defenders are free from harassment,… More
UDHR at 70: Taking Stock of Human Rights Today
As we mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights today, some might say that we have little to celebrate. The significant human rights gains of the early post-Cold War years appear to be coming undone as authoritarian populists take hold in countries that once seemed firmly in the democratic fold. For all of our solemn promises to “never again” permit the perpetration of genocide and crimes against humanity,… More
Australia Enacts Modern Slavery Law
On November 29, Australia became only the second country in the world to enact legislation to fight modern slavery when the country’s Parliament passed the Modern Slavery Act. The new Australian legislation is similar to the UK’s Modern Slavery Act, which was enacted in 2015, inasmuch as both statutes seek to fight modern slavery by getting companies to crack down on such practices in their supply chains.… More
Making the case for business action to “secure the shared space”
The relationship between companies and civil society can often be acrimonious, yet in the current geopolitical environment, they share more interests in common than one might think. This is the key insight that underpins new guidance authored by Bennett Freeman and others for the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre and two partner organizations on the role that companies should play in protecting the “shared space” they occupy with civil society.… More
Five on Friday – Five Recent Developments that We’ve Been Watching Closely
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 look ahead at the upcoming UN Forum on Business and Human Rights; a decision in the Nevsun case by the British Columbia Court of Appeal; and the first decision by a NCP to hear a complaint focused on the impacts of climate change.… More
National Labor Relations Board Issues Controversial Decision Regarding Who is a Joint Employer
This post, written by Rob Fisher, was originally published as a client alert by the firm’s Labor & Employment practice.
One of the most fundamental concepts under federal labor law is identifying who is the employer. Under the National Labor Relations Act, “the employer” has a duty to bargain with the union representing its employees, is bound by the collective bargaining agreement,… More
H.R. 4842: New Bill Calls for Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery in Corporate Supply Chains
On June 11, Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced H.R. 4842, the Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2014. 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.
The proposed federal legislation, co-sponsored by Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ),… More
Land Tenure Risk: Why It Matters for Companies, Investors, and Communities
Two important new reports focus on land tenure conflicts between companies and communities.
In September, the Rights and Resources Initiative released a report entitled, “Global Capital, Local Concessions: A Data-Driven Examination of Land Tenure Risk and Industrial Concessions in Emerging Market Economies.” The report, drafted by the Munden Project, attempts to quantify the percentage of company land concessions that overlap community (particularly indigenous) claims,… More
Looking Ahead: Five Developments We’ll be Watching in 2013
As memories of New Year’s Eve fade, and another Inauguration Day winds down in Washington, D.C., it’s time to look ahead and identify key events and emerging trends that we think will help shape the business and human rights agenda in 2013.
Here are five developments that we’ll be watching closely:
Further integration of human rights considerations into business management systems. Eighteen months after the release of the U.N.… More