Editor's note: Enrico Partiti
is Assistant Professor of Transnational Regulation and Governance at Tilburg
University and Associate Fellow at the Asser Institute. His expertise centres
on European and international economic law, sustainability and supply chain
regulation. In particular, he studies how private standard-setters and
corporations regulate globally sustainability and human rights
Upcoming Event: Fighting global deforestation through due diligence: towards an EU regulation on forest and ecosystem risk commodities? - 4 November 2020 - 16:00 (CET) - Register Here!
The recent vote in the
Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee of the European
Parliament on binding legislation to stop EU-driven global deforestation is a
watershed moment in the global fight against deforestation, ecosystem
conversion and associated human rights violations. The ENVI Committee report, that will
soon be voted by the plenary, requests the Commission (as provided in Art. 225
TFEU) to table a legislative proposal for a measure disciplining the placing on
the EU market of products associated to forest and ecosystem conversion and
degradation, as well as violations of indigenous communities’ human rights. The
Parliament’s initiative takes place in a policy context increasingly concerned
with deforestation, in the framework of a Commission Communication on stepping up
EU action to protect and restore the world’s forests which left a door open for
measure would aim to severe the economic link between demand of agricultural commodities, especially by
large consumers markets, and negative environmental impacts - including on
climate change. Beef, soy and palm oil alone are responsible for 80% of
tropical deforestation, and consequent CO2 emissions. In 2014, EU demand was
responsible for 41% of global imports of beef, 25% of palm oil and 15% of soy,
as well as large shares of other commodities at high risk for forests and
ecosystems such as such as maize (30%), cocoa (80%), coffee (60%), and rubber
(25%). Protecting just forests is not sufficient, as it risks to displace
conversion to other non-forests ecosystems such as the Brazilian cerrado. In
light of their negative impact on both forests and other natural
ecosystems, such commodities have been labeled as forest and ecosystem risks
commodities (FERCs). More...
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...
Editor's Note: Marie Wilmet is a research intern in Public
International Law at the Asser Institute. She recently graduated from Leiden
University’s LL.M. in Public International Law. Her main fields of interest
include international criminal law, humanitarian law and human rights law as
well as counterterrorism.
Alliance for Torture-Free Trade was launched
on 18 September 2017, at the 72nd Session of the United Nations (UN)
General Assembly, by a common initiative of Argentina, the European Union (EU)
and Mongolia. It aims
at ending the trade in goods used to carry out the death penalty and torture.
Indeed, even though torture is unlawful under public international law, these
goods are currently available on the open market across the globe. By banning
such tools from global trade, the Alliance hopes to reduce the possible human
rights violations by complicating the perpetrators’ acquisition of the means to
execute and torture people.
initiative is part of a broader agenda both at the UN and EU level. It falls
under the broader umbrella of UN projects such as the UN Guiding
Principles for Business and Human Rights or the UN Global
Compact. Moreover, the EU has tried in the recent years
to strengthen the rule of law by conducting policies where trade
and values are more interrelated. As the EU
Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström stated,
“human rights cannot be treated as an afterthought when it comes to trade”.
blog will first retrace the origins of the Alliance by outlining the current
factual and legal framework surrounding torture, the death penalty and related
trade. Then, the Alliance and its ambitions will be analysed, along with the
chances of its effective implementation. More...
Editor's note: Sara Martinetto is a research intern at the T.M.C. Asser Institute. She has recently completed her LLM in Public International Law at the University of Amsterdam. She holds interests in Migration Law, Criminal Law, Human Rights and European Law, with a special focus on their transnational dimension.
Having explained the Italian legal trajectory of the Ilva case, this second post focuses on the transnational reach of the case. Two main actors have played (or play) a crucial role: the European Union (especially the EU Commission) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Both have tackled the Ilva case from different perspectives, depending on their competences. The Commission even dealt with the case from two distinctive viewpoints, as it started infringement proceedings related environmental protection state and aid.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...