Commission study shows that new EU law would improve companies’ respect for human rights

Publicado: 24th Febrero 2020

A study initiated by the European Commission and released today says that new EU due diligence rules could significantly improve respect for human rights in the supply chains of European companies.

Reacting to the news, Oxfam policy manager Hanna Nelson said:

“Millions of women and men who produce the food we eat and the products we buy are trapped in poverty and face brutal working conditions, despite billion-dollar profits in the industry. The current voluntary approach has not stopped human rights disasters from happening throughout the supply chains of European companies. New legislation could make a real, positive difference for the people producing the goods and services sold in Europe.

“The evidence is clear: the European Commission must propose a law for due diligence in business supply chains now. This will oblige EU companies to identify and mitigate risks to human rights and the environment throughout their supply chains. New rules should apply to all sectors, and people affected by violations should have access to remedy.”

Notas para editores

  • Oxfam spokesperson Hanna Nelson is available for interviews and background information.
  • The “Study on due diligence requirements through the supply chain”, published today by the European Commission, was conducted  by the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL). It assesses a range of options for due diligence on human rights and environmental issues in the supply chains of companies. It looks at current business practices as well as existing and proposed voluntary and regulatory options for due diligence at the EU level.
  • A key conclusion from the study is that introducing new EU regulation for mandatory due diligence could bring about significant positive impact to human rights and the environment. The study also shows that due diligence is increasingly being introduced, or proposed, as a legal standard in EU member states.
  • Oxfam’s report ‘Ripe for Change’ revealed widespread human suffering among the women and men producing food for supermarkets around the world. From forced labour aboard fishing vessels in Southeast Asia to poverty wages on Indian tea plantations and hunger faced by South African grape farms. Human rights and labour rights abuses are evidently all too common in our food supply chains.
  • The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights state that “in order to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address their adverse human rights impacts, business enterprises should carry out human rights due diligence”. New legislation could offer the framework to ensure that companies are required to carry out proper due diligence measures.
  • EU legislation on mandatory human rights due diligence for EU businesses would aim to protect human and labour rights by obliging companies to identify, assess and mitigate the risks to all human rights and the environment posed by the businesses’ own activities and those of their subsidiaries and suppliers. It should also ensure that people affected by human rights violations connected with corporate activity have access to adequate, effective, prompt and appropriate remedy.

Información de contacto

Florian Oel | Brussels | | office +32 2 234 11 15 | mobile +32 473 56 22 60

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