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: 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...
Wybe Th. Douma is senior researcher in EU law and international trade law at the
placing of illegally harvested timber on the EU internal market is prohibited
already for over four years, the first court cases are appearing only now.
Judges in Sweden and The Netherlands have recently held that the due diligence
requirements of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) had not been met by two
importing companies. The companies should have ensured that the timber from Myanmar
and Cameroon was logged in compliance with the local legislation, should have
provided extensive evidence of this, especially where the countries in question
are prone to corruption and governance challenges, and should have adopted risk
mitigation measures. Moreover, another Dutch court recently ordered the Dutch
competent authorities to explain why they did not enforce the EUTR in cases
where due diligence requirements concerning timber imported from Brazil were
not met. In other EU member states, similar court decisions were adopted.
decisions show that the EUTR system, aimed at ‘doing business right’ in the
timber trade sector, is starting to take effect in practice. Could the ‘unilateral’
EUTR system form an example for other regimes that try to ensure that trade by
the EU with the rest of the world contributes to sustainable development and the
protection of human rights? And what role does the bilateral Voluntary
Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade
(FLEGT) between the EU and Indonesia play in this respect? More...
The negative impact on human rights of what we wear is not always well-known
to the consumer. Our clothing consumption has increased over five times since
the Nineties. At the same time, the business model of certain fashion brands is too often dependent on widespread human
rights and labour rights violations to be profitable, cheap, and fast. The 2013
tragedy of Rana Plaza, where more than 1100 garment workers died, gives us just
a small hint of the true costs of our clothes and footwear. Efforts by
governments to tame the negative effects of transnational supply chains have
proven difficult due to the extreme delocalisation of production, and the difficulty to even be aware of
a company’s last tier of
suppliers in certain developing countries. More...