Blogs

04May

Mandatory Due Diligence – Threat or Opportunity?

Proposals on mandatory due diligence – part 6: written by Eva Lammers

The draft of the European Directive is all about making sure companies do their homework when it comes to human rights and the environment. EU member states must introduce legal requirements based on the OECD Guidelines and the UNGPs. It could be defined as a guide for companies to make sure they are being responsible global citizens. The Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz (hereinafter: German Supply Chain Act) is Germany's version of a supply chain act, with its own twist. In this blog, the German Supply Chain Act will be compared to the European Directive.

30April

Ten Years Since Rana Plaza – What Has Changed?

What the biggest disaster in the garment industry has brought about

This week it has been ten years since ‘Rana Plaza’ in Bangladesh collapsed, also known as the ‘9/11’ of the garment industry. Thousands of workers had to keep working in this 8-floored building despite concerns about the structure of the building, expressed towards their supervisors. Clothes of famous international brands like Gucci, Prada, Versace and Moncler were made in the textile factories based in the top floors of the building, added without permit. These floors were not suitable for heavy industrial machines, important bearing walls were missing. The collapse of those floors tore down the rest of the building, and over 1,130 people did not survive. The biggest disaster in the history of the garment industry was a wake up call that the safety of textile workers desperately needed improvement.

22April

Mandatory Due Diligence – Threat or Opportunity?

Proposals on mandatory due diligence – part 5: contributed by Eva Lammers and Harmen Goudappel

In part 3 we already dove into the European Directive, in which we discussed the main contents. In the previous blog of this series, it is already discussed that although a directive is currently being worked on at the European level, several EU countries already have legislation on business and human rights. In this blog, we will compare the European Directive to the Dutch proposal. Further on, the German and French regulations will also be discussed.

12April

The Future of Children Lies in Our Hands

Social protection as a means to end child labour

A few weeks ago, UNICEF and the ILO published a joint report on how more than a billion children under 15 years old lack critical social protection worldwide. The Director of the Social Protection Department of the ILO states universal social protection paves the way to sustainable development and social justice. Lack of social protection makes children more vulnerable for child labour. Social protection is one of the main goals of the ILO in the light of a human-centred approach to the future of work. These goals sound very promising. What is social protection actually, and how can it decrease child labour?

26March

Mandatory Due Diligence – Threat or Opportunity?

Proposals for mandatory due diligence – part 4

As mentioned in the previous blog of this series, the text of the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (hereinafter: Directive) is not final yet. The European Council has adopted its negotiating position (‘general approach’), and the European Parliament is expected to vote on its position during its plenary in May. Negotiations between the Council, Parliament and Commission are expected to start in the summer, possibly reaching an agreement on the final text by the end of 2023. However, reaching that agreement may take a bit longer.

15March

Sexual Abuse: Violation of a Safe and Healthy Workplace?

Convention C190 on Violence and Harassment as part of OSH

Last week, International Women’s Day was celebrated all around the world. On that day, amongst other things, women’s right to work and professional achievements working towards equality between men and women are celebrated. However, there is still a long way to go. Three weeks ago, the BBC revealed shocking stories of sexual abuse of women on Kenyan tea farms. The harassment took place for years on plantations owned by Unilever and James Finlay & Co. After the allegations were made public, Lipton Teas and Infusions, who recently bought Unilever’s plantations, has reportedly taken action immediately. Even though Unilever launched a “zero tolerance” approach to sexual harassment including a reporting system 10 years ago, many women were sexually abused by their bosses, and when they reported it to their supervisors, no action was taken. Jobs are very scarce in Kenya, so women hardly have a choice to quit since they have families to feed.

02March

Mandatory Due Diligence – Threat or Opportunity?

Proposals for mandatory due diligence – part 3

Mandatory due diligence is a sensitive subject which evokes many different reactions. In this series (see part 1 and 2), it is already discussed what due diligence is, why it is becoming mandatory and what companies’ views are on this obligation. Considering it has been one year since the European Commission adopted the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (hereinafter: Directive), in this blog the contents of the difficult-to-read Directive will be clarified.

24February

Are Supplier Codes of Conduct Effective?

By Sarah Vandenbroucke

Multinational impact on human rights in global supply chains is gaining momentum, and is increasingly discussed by legislators and academics. To do business responsibly, companies often adopt supplier codes of conduct through which social and human rights are protected. These codes are also the documents to be found in our database.Since supplier codes of conduct (hereinafter: SCs) form self-regulatory tools, companies are free to use wording and compliance methods of their own choice. Does this make supplier codes solely window dressing policy documents?

20February

Mandatory Due Diligence – Threat or Opportunity?

Proposals for mandatory due diligence – part 2: ESG Manager Manuella Appiah on the due diligence approach of Sunrock

Mandatory due diligence is a sensitive subject which evokes many different reactions. In the first part of this series, we discussed what due diligence is and why the EU and different national governments are planning on making it mandatory. For this blog, we invited Sunrock ESG Manager Manuella Appiah to tell us more about due diligence from their company’s perspective.

11February

Structural Impact of COVID-19 on the World of Work

How a pandemic is not just a threat to public health

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a crisis like this generation had never seen before. Everyone was and continues to be affected in aspects of their private or professional lives. For some people it may feel like we are back to normal, others may say the pandemic is far from over. But the pandemic was – or is – not only a threat to public health. In a previous blog, we reviewed WESO 2023 and issues regarding recent crises. In this blog we will focus specifically on the impact of a public health crisis on the world of work.

02February

Mandatory Due Diligence – Threat or Opportunity?

Proposals for mandatory due diligence – part 1

Recently, there has been much ado about the Dutch Bill on Responsible and Sustainable International Business Conduct in the Netherlands. Because of the effects of the obligations in this bill, Royal Boskalis threatened to leave the country. The Dutch Bill is comparable to the Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence in the EU. The Bill and the EU Proposal contain a due diligence obligation for companies. Boskalis is one of the largest dredging companies worldwide, with more than 10,000 employees and a revenue of almost 3 billion euros in 2021. According to Boskalis, the Dutch Bill contains a duty of care which is vaguely defined, posing great risks of liability which endangers the continuity necessary for business operations. MVO Nederland, a networking organisation for responsible and sustainable companies, is involved in the making of the Bill. This organisation claims that the Bill specifies and clarifies what is expected of international business conduct. MVO wants the Dutch Bill to be an example for the rest of the EU, which has caused a lot of discussion in the Netherlands.

Since mandatory due diligence is a sensitive subject which evokes many different reactions, we will write a series of blog posts about it. Before we dive deeper into the Dutch Bill and the European Proposal for a Directive, the first blog of the series is focused on what due diligence is and why institutes are planning on making it mandatory.

Posted in Human rights

20January

Economic Slowdown: Decent Work Deficits Persist, Undermining Social Justice

A look into the World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2023 published by the ILO

It is the beginning of 2023, a time for reflection and estimates. On January 16th, the ILO published a new edition of the World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2023 (WESO 2023), which covers the extent and consequences of overlapping economic and geopolitical crises on the global labour market.

12January

The Impact of Multinational Corporations on Human Rights

How human rights can be protected through regulating corporate activities

Under international law, the protection of human rights is primarily seen as a State responsibility. For example, the Occupational Health and Safety Convention, 1981 (no. 155), forces ratifying States to implement an adequate national policy on occupational safety and health to protect workers. In practice, multinational corporations can be more powerful than some States. 157 of the richest 200 entities in the world are corporations, not governments. Some multinational corporations such as Walmart, Shell and Apple generated more revenue in 2017 than relatively rich countries such as Russia, South Korea and Sweden. 

Corporations can have a negative influence on human rights through their business activities. According to the ILO, fifty million people around the world are currently living in modern slavery. This number has increased by ten million in the past five years. Multinational corporations profit from these illegal labour practices. The ILO has estimated that forced labour generates about one-hundred fifty billion dollars per year for the private, worldwide economy.

05January

Closing the EU-Borders for Products Made With Forced Labour

On the proposal for regulation to ban products made with forced labour on the EU market

Forced labour is an actual problem. According to the latest Global Estimates of modern slavery (issued by the ILO in September 2022), 27.6 million people are in situations of forced labour on any given day, from which 12% are children – and because of limited data, this already alarming percentage may well be just the tip of the iceberg. Furthermore, the number of people in forced labour has increased by 2.7 million between 2016 and 2021. Therefore international organisations – especially the ILO – are still taking actions on a regular basis. For instance, in December 2022 the ILO launched the Forced Labour Observatory (FLO) to develop a global data warehouse on forced labour and trafficking. However, the ILO is not the only organisation to take action. Recently the European Union (EU) also showed commitment to end forced labour.

22December

Connecting CSR With the Work of the CFA?

ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA) 70th anniversary, 1952-2022

In honour of the 70th anniversary (1952) of the Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA) professor emeritus Paul van der Heijden (International Labour Law) has written a blog post. A summary of his blog can be found below. The whole text can be found here.

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