Editor’s note: Daniel Iglesias Márquez is an external researcher in Business and Human
Rights at the Tarragona Centre for Environmental Law Studies. He holds a PhD from
the Rovira Virgili University in Tarragona (Spain). Other main fields of
interest include International Environmental Law, International Criminal Law
and European law.
The EU and its Member States have largely endorsed
the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human
in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy and
have committed to supporting their implementation.[i]
The UNGPs state that companies have a responsibility to respect human rights wherever
they operate. Companies are therefore expected to take proactive steps to ensure
that they do not cause or contribute to human rights abuses within their global
operations and to respond to human rights abuses when they do occur. This implies
establishing due diligence processes to identify, prevent, mitigate and record potential
and actual adverse human rights impacts.
Although the EU has not played a constructive role
at the Geneva negotiations for a UN Treaty
on business and human rights,[ii] some
modest developments in the right direction have been made at the EU level to foster a culture of ‘doing business
right’ among companies in certain industrial
sectors. Put differently, the EU has adopted regulations and directives that implement
Due diligence requirements are the most common way
of ensuring that business behavior meets social expectations. An example of this
is the new EU Conflict Minerals Regulation
which requires EU companies to ensure the responsible sourcing of minerals and metals. This EU law has an extraterritorial reach since
due diligence requirements must be exercised by a company throughout its international
supply chain. However, the Regulation raises a number of challenges ahead that
may affect its purpose and implementation. More...
(2 November), the T.M.C. Asser Instituut hosted a roundtable on the role of financial
institutions in ensuring responsible business conduct and, in particular,
fostering respect for human rights. The discussion focused on the Dutch Banking Sector
Agreement on international responsible business conduct regarding human rights (DBSA or
Agreement), including details of its key features and the practicalities of its
implementation, alongside the theme of responsible banking more generally. More...
Editor’s Note: Elisa Chiaro is a legal consultant focussing
on Business and Human Rights and International Criminal Law. In 2016 she
completed an LL.M. at SOAS, University of London. Before that she worked for
five years as international corporate lawyer both in Italy and UK. She is
admitted to the Bar in Italy.
discourse, the most pressing issues concerning human rights and business are often
associated with the developing countries to which manufacturing is outsourced.
However, the “western world” also faces new challenges as far as workers’
rights are concerned.
It is cheap and convenient for people to book a car ride or
order their favourite takeaway meal at a few swipes of their smartphone. App-based
service companies are thus very popular among consumers – and are consequently
flourishing. Conversely, some doubts have been cast on the fairness of the working
conditions of people contracted by these companies. A central issue in this
respect relates to the status of their workers, who on paper are self-employed,
but in reality are subject to the control of the company, a condition which
clashes with being independent. This post aims firstly to analyse the labour conditions
of gig economy workers in Europe, with a focus on some of the main service platforms,
namely Uber, Deliveroo, Foodora, and Hermes Parcels: the majority of these
companies, Uber in particular, are transnational, operating in many national
markets and adopting the same business model based on flexible work and lack of
security for workers in each market. Secondly, it will scrutinise how National
and European institutions and courts are augmenting gig economy workers’
conditions for the better. The issue is crucial in the UK, especially following
September’s decision by Transport of London (“TFL”) to reject Uber’s
application for a new London license, but legal disputes have also started in
other countries (in, among others, the UK, Italy and the USA). The UK
Parliament is also discussing the matter, and the EU Commission has started a
round table with trade unions and employers to find new solutions to address the
Editor's Note: Catherine Dunmore is an experienced international lawyer who practised international arbitration for multinational law firms in London and Paris. She recently received her LL.M. from the University of Toronto and her main fields of interest include international criminal law and human rights. Since October 2017, she is part of the team of the Doing Business Right project at the Asser Institute.
The Court of Appeal in London recently handed down its judgment in Dominic Liswaniso Lungowe and Ors. v Vedanta Resources Plc and Konkola Copper Mines Plc  EWCA Civ 1528 (Lungowe v Vedanta) addressing issues of jurisdiction and parent company liability. The judgment runs contrary to the historical legal doctrine that English domiciled parent companies are protected from liability for their foreign subsidiaries’ actions. This decision clarifies the duty of care standard a parent company owes when operating via a subsidiary and opens the gates to other English domiciled companies and their subsidiaries being held accountable for any human rights abuses. More...
Editor's note: This report compiles all relevant
news, events and materials on transnational business regulation based on the
daily coverage provided on our twitter feed @DoinBizRight. You are invited to complete this survey via the comments
section below, feel free to add links to important cases, documents and
articles we might have overlooked. More...