Almost 30 organizations have joined forces to call on the UK to follow in the footsteps of its European partners by introducing corporate responsibility laws that require companies to conduct environmental and human rights due diligence in their supply chains.
Groups, including the TUC, Friends of the Earth and Amnesty International, say that systemic human rights abuses and environmentally destructive practices are common in the global operations and supply chains of UK companies, and voluntary approaches to tackling the problem have failed.
Countries like France, Germany other Norway have already passed laws on supply chain due diligence, while the EU is to introduce obligations of all companies operating in the single market. Supporters of a new law say that without it UK companies operating in the single market would be obliged to meet those obligations, but those outside it would not.
Mark Dearn, director of the Corporate Justice Coalition, which supports the call, said: “It is not possible to guarantee respect for human rights without binding laws that address corporate rights abuses that occur with impunity in the global supply chains of multinational corporations. .
“The UK presents itself as a leader in business and human rights, but this is simply not true. There are no laws in the UK holding companies accountable for human rights abuses and the Modern Slavery Act does not guarantee that supply chains are free from modern slavery. Meanwhile, countries in Europe are creating new laws that will go far beyond any obligation imposed on UK companies. “
The 29 groups backing a new law, which also include Labor Behind the Label, Unison and Christian Aid, say it is vital to ensure that the United Nations’ sustainable development goals are met and the G7’s commitments to respect human rights are met. . At last month’s G7 summit, hosted by Boris Johnson, leaders pledged to “ensure that global supply chains are free from the use of forced labor”.
A government spokesperson said: “The government is committed to eradicating modern slavery from the global economy and increasing transparency in supply chains, and we will go further than ever to crack down on illegal deforestation and protect rainforests, thanks to new world-leading laws being introduced through the historic environmental bill.
“We actively encourage companies to do their due diligence and identify, prevent and account for potential risks in their operations and in all relationships in their supply chain.”