Doing Business Right – Monthly Report – May & June 2019 - By Shamistha Selvaratnam & Maisie Biggs

Doing Business Right – Monthly Report – May & June 2019


Editor’s note: Shamistha Selvaratnam is a LLM Candidate of the Advanced Masters of European and International Human Rights Law at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Prior to commencing the LLM, she worked as a business and human rights solicitor in Australia where she specialised in promoting business respect for human rights through engagement with policy, law and practice. Maisie Biggs graduated with a MSc in Global Crime, Justice and Security from the University of Edinburgh and holds a LLB from University College London. She is currently working with the Asser Institute in The Hague. She has previously worked for International Justice Mission in South Asia and the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) in Amsterdam.



This report compiles all relevant news, events and materials on Doing Business Right based on the coverage provided on our twitter feed @DoinBizRight and on various websites. You are invited to contribute to this compilation via the comments section below, feel free to add links to important cases, documents and articles we may have overlooked.


The Headlines

Dutch Court allows Case against Shell to Proceed

On 1 May the Hague District Court rules that it has jurisdiction to hear a suit brought against the Royal Dutch Shell by four Nigerian widows. The widows are still seeking redress for the killing of their husbands in 1995 in Nigeria. They claim the defendants are accomplices in the execution of their husbands by the Abasha regime. Allegedly, Shell and related companies provided material support, which led to the arrests and deaths of the activists. Although Shell denies wrongdoing in this case, the Court has allowed the suit to proceed. The judgment is accessible in Dutch here. An English translation is yet to be provided.

The Netherlands Adopts Child Labour Due Diligence Law

On 14 May the Dutch Government passed legislation requiring certain companies to carry out due diligence related to child labour in their supply chains. The law applies to companies that are either registered in the Netherlands that sell or deliver goods or services to Dutch consumers or that are registered overseas but sell or deliver goods or services to Dutch consumers. These companies will have to submit a statement declaring that they have due diligence procedures in place to prevent child labour from being used in the production of their goods or services.

While it is not yet clear when the law will come into force, it is unlikely to do so before 1 January 2020. The Dutch law is part of the growing movement to embed human rights due diligence into national legislative frameworks. The law is accessible in Dutch here.

First case under the French Due Diligence law initiated against Total

French NGOs Amis de la Terre FR and Survie have initiated civil proceedings against French energy company Total for the planned Tilenga mining project in Uganda. These organisations and CRED, Friends of the Earth Uganda and NAVODA have sent a formal notice to Total in relation to concerns over the potential expropriation of people in proximity to the site of the Tilenga project and threats to the environment. Information on the case from the initiating civil society organisations can be found here. This is the first initiated case under the new French Due Diligence law, and may act as a test case for future litigation.

In a similar vein, civil society organisations CCFD-Terre Solidaire and Sherpa have launched Le Radar du Devoir de Vigilance [The Vigilance Duty Radar], a resource to track the compliance of French companies to the law. The site lists potentially subjected companies, and their published vigilance plans (or lack thereof).

Bolstering the UK Modern Slavery Act

During a speech at the International Labour Organisation’s centenary conference on 11 June 2019, Theresa May outlined the UK Government’s further commitments to strengthen the Modern Slavery Act 2015; these included a central public registry of modern slavery transparency statements by businesses (in a similar vein to the Gender Pay Gap Service), and the extension of reporting requirements to the public sector. Individual ministerial departments will be obliged to publish modern slavery statements from 2021, while central Government has committed to publish voluntarily this year. The focus on public sector procurement will apparently also include a “new programme that will improve responsible recruitment in parts of our public sector supply chains that pass through Asia.”

The Final Report of the Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 was released in May, and considered in Westminster Hall on 19th June.


UN and International Organisations Publications and Statements 

•       European Commission – Corporate Social Responsibility, Responsible Business Conduct, and Business & Human Rights: Overview of Progress

•       International Labour Organisation – Public sector clients pledge action to foster fair recruitment

•       OHCHR – Statement by the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights: Time for the G20 to act on commitments and step up leadership on business and human rights


NGOs, NHRIs, CSOs and Human Rights Organisations Publications and Statements

•       Amnesty International – Thailand: Defamation charges for exposing labour abuse

•       Business & Human Rights Resource Centre – Out of Sight: Modern Slavery in Pacific Supply Chains of Canned Tuna: A Survey & Analysis of Company Action

•       Business & Human Rights Resource Centre – Out of Sight: Modern Slavery in Pacific Supply Chains of Canned Tuna: A Survey & Analysis of Company Action

•       Center for International Legal Cooperation – Summary of Sounding Board Consultation Round 1 – Results Elements Paper on the Hague Rules on Business and Human Rights Arbitration

•       Clean Clothes Campaign – Questions raised after agreement reached on Bangladesh Accord

•       Coalition for Human Rights in Development – Uncalculated Risks: Threats and attacks against human rights defenders and the role of development financiers

•       Conectas – Following Pressure, Vale Withdraws from UN Social Responsibility Network

•       Conflict and Environment Observatory – New UN legal report addresses the responsibility of states and corporations for environmental damage in conflict

•       CORE – 49 global CSOs call for justice for Nigerian villages devastated by Shell oil spill

•       CORE – Improving the effectiveness of the supply chain reporting requirement in UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 and moving towards mandatory human rights due diligence

•       European Coalition of Corporate Justice – Finnish Government commits to HRDD legislation

•       FERN, Tropenbos International and Fair Trade Advocacy Office – Towards sustainable cocoa supply chains: Regulatory options for the EU

•       Justice Project Pakistan & Equidem Research and Consulting – Through the Cracks: The Exploitation of Pakistani Migrant Workers in the Gulf Recruitment Regime

•       Mahidol University, ASEAN CSR Network & Article Thirty – Human Rights Disclosure in ASEAN

•       MVO Platform – MVO Platform position paper on due diligence and certification

•       MVO Platform – The Netherlands takes an historic step by adopting child labour due diligence law

•       OECD Watch – The State of Remedy under the OECD Guidelines: Understanding NCP cases concluded in 2018 through the lens of remedy

•       OECD Watch – Use with caution: The role of the OECD National Contact Points in protecting human rights defenders

•       Sancroft – The Sancroft-Tussell Report: Eliminating modern slavery in public procurement

•       SOMO – European Development Bank significantly strengthens its grievance mechanism

•       SOMO – Shell put Nigeria under pressure with ISDS process to obtain oil field OPL 245

•       SwedWatch – Copper with a Cost: Human rights and environmental risks in the mineral supply chains of ICT: A case study from Zambia

•       The Danish Institute for Human Rights – Nestlé first company to publicly share its human rights training for employees

•       The Freedom Fund – Going Dutch: The Netherlands’ Adoption of a Child Labour Law Reaffirms Trend of Mandating Corporate Due Diligence

•       Treaty Alliance Germany – Briefing Paper on Zero Draft: Unpacking Arguments against a Treaty

•       Trial International – German and Belgian Prosecutors Urged to Shed Light on Exports of Dual-Use Goods to Syria


Government Press Releases and Publications

•       Canadian Government – Consultation on labour exploitation in global supply chains

•       Dutch Working Group on Enabling Remediation – Discussion Paper

•       G7 – G7 Social Communique

•       United Kingdom Modern Slavery Unit – Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act 2015: Final Report


In Court 

•       Court of The Hague – Kiobel v Shell

•       Sydney Morning Herald – 'It's game on': BHP hit with record $7b claim in UK over deadly dam collapse


In the News 

•       Aljazeera – Brazil indigenous affairs head fired amid push to develop Amazon

•       Amnesty International – Nigeria/Netherlands: Shell ruling “a vital step towards justice”

•       Bloomberg - Kenya Cancels Environment License of $2 Billion Coal-Power Plant

•       Ethical Corporation – 'UK multinationals will face greater scrutiny after the Vedanta decision'

•       EUReporter Economy – Europe takes a big step towards companies having ‘duty of care’ on #HumanRights

•       Financial Times – National courts have global companies in their sights

•       Financial Times – Pressure builds on mining industry over supply chains

•       Financial Times – Vedanta starts arbitration against Zambia after mines seized

•       Financial Times has launched Moral Money, a platform and newsletter to cover ESG, impact investing and sustainable business practice.

•       Ground Up – Aussie company show big profits from South African West Coast mine

•       Japan Times – 'Culture of fear': Report alleges low pay and overwork for laborers at Tokyo Olympics sites

•       Khaleej Times – Worker injured at work in UAE gets Dh1.5 million compensation

•       Le Monde – Bolloré sued by ten NGOs

•       Mail Online – PM to unveil new measures to tackle `abhorrent´ modern slavery

•       Nikkei Asian Review – Uniqlo discloses all garment factories for first time

•       Reuters – UK urged to 'lead by example' on slavery as top state suppliers flout law

•       Reuters – UPDATE 1-BNP Paribas must face revived lawsuit over Sudanese genocide- U.S. appeals court

•       Reuters – Widows of hanged Nigeria activists can continue case vs Shell: Dutch court

•       The Guardian – 'I had pain all over my body': Italy’s tainted tobacco industry

•       The Guardian – Are your tinned tomatoes picked by slave labour?

•       The Guardian – Dozens killed in DRC Glencore copper mine accident

•       The Guardian – Low pay in the garment industry still a reality despite pledges – study

•       The Guardian – Murder, rape and claims of contamination at a Tanzanian goldmine

•       The Guardian – WhatsApp spyware: UK firm promises new 'respect for human rights' following allegations

•       The Sunday Times – Law on parent company liability moving in right direction

•       The Sydney Morning Herald – BHP faces beefed up class action over Samarco disaster

•       Triple Pundit – Companies Need More Than CSR To Tackle Modern Slavery


Academic Materials

•       Amy Sinclair and Justine Nolan – Modern Slavery Laws in Australia: Steps in the Right Direction? – Business and Human Rights Journal

•       Bernice Yeung – In a Day's Work: The Fight to End Sexual Violence Against America's Most Vulnerable Workers – Human Rights Quarterly

•       Charlotte Villiers – Global Supply Chains and Sustainability: The Role of Disclosure and Due Diligence Regulation – In Beate Sjåfjell and Christopher M. Bruner (eds), Cambridge Handbook of Corporate Law, Corporate Governance and Sustainability (Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming).

•       David Strouss – Bringing Pesticide Injury Cases to US Courts: The Challenges of Transnational Litigation – Business and Human Rights Journal

•       Dorota Weziak-Blalowolska, Piotr Bialowolski and Eileen McNeely – Worker’s well-being. Evidence from the apparel industry in Mexico – Intelligent Buildings International

•       Girogia Papalia – Doing Business Right: The Case for a Business and Human Rights Treaty – Perth International Law Journal

•       Karin Buhmann, Jonas Jonsson and Mette Fisker – Do No Harm and Do More Good Too: Connecting Business and Human Rights with Political CSR to Identify Business Opportunities for Contributing to the SDGs – The International Journal of Business in Society (Forthcoming)

•       Maddalena Neglia – Striking the Right(s) Balance: Conflicts between Human Rights and Freedom to Conduct a Business in the ILVA Case in Italy – Business and Human Rights Journal

•       Samentha Goethals – Exploring Migrant Employees’ ‘Rights-Talk’ in the British Hospitality Sector – Business and Human Rights Journal



Asser Institute Doing Business Right Blog

•       Maisie Biggs – Background Information to the Lundin Case

•       Maisie Biggs – International Criminal Law and Corporate Actors - Part 1: From Slave Trade Tribunals to Nuremberg 

•       Maisie Biggs – International Criminal Law and Corporate Actors - Part 2: The Rome Statute and its Aftermath

•       Maisie Biggs – International Criminal Law and Corporate Actors - Part 3: War Crimes before Domestic Courts

•       Shamistha Selvaratnam – The Rise of Human Rights Due Diligence (Part II): The Pluralist Struggle to Shape the Practical Meaning of the Concept

•       Shamistha Selvaratnam – The Rise of Human Rights Due Diligence (Part III): A Deep Dive into Adidas’ Practices

•       Shamistha Selvaratnam – The Rise of Human Rights Due Diligence (Part IV): A Deep Dive into Unilever’s Practices

•       Shamistha Selvaratnam – The Rise of Human Rights Due Diligence (Part V): Does it Foster Respect for Human Rights by Business?

Other Blogs

•       Alessandro Runci – Critical shareholding as a tool to hold Italian corporations accountable – Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

•       Anne Manschot – Audits are failing – brands should cut out waste so suppliers can pay their workers a living wage – Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

•       Benjamin Hoffman – Many segments of the business and human rights field have been co-opted & captured by corporate actors – Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

•       Bobbie Sta. Maria, BHHRC and JJ Rosenbaum – Why women workers in global garment supply chains are saying #MeToo – Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

•       Chiara Macchi – The Human Rights Obligations of International Organisations towards their Civilian Personnel – BHR Journal Blog

•       Daniela Chimisso dos Santos – The Effect on Business: The Reality of the Nevsun Case in Canada – BHR Journal Blog

•       Dr Bärbel Kofler – Duty-bound to protect – Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

•       Ekaterina Aristova – Clarifying the limits of extraterritorial jurisdiction of English courts to try business-related human rights violations – BHR Journal Blog

•       Elena Blanco – Jurisdiction, access to remedy in business and human rights cases and the corporate structure: A tale of two cases – BHR Journal Blog

•       Emily Dwyer – Canada's 'toothless' new corporate watchdog is a broken promise and a major setback for human rights – Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

•       Geert Van Calster – Kiobel v Shell in The Netherlands – GAVC LAW

•       Genevieve LeBaron – How to Spur Corporate Accountability with Modern Slavery Legislation – Delta87

•       Heidi Hautala – Responsible Business Conduct - the European Business model of the 2020s – Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

•       Jolyon Ford – Can consumers and market actors ‘regulate’ corporate reporting on Modern Slavery risk? – Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

•       Joseph Wilde – Going Dutch: Four things you should know about the Netherlands’ new law to eliminate child labour – Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

•       Kelly Groen and Lis Cunha – Due diligence laws must not leave women behind – Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

•       Kristen Casper – Reality bites: Fossil fuel companies face climate liability claims after decades of denial – Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

•       Larry Cata Backer – Norwegian Ethics Information Committee Seeks Input on Methods to Improve Respect For Human Rights Through Supply Chain Transparency Mechanisms – Law at the End of the Day

•       Lauren Armistead and Mark Dummett – Why the UK Supreme Court must hear Nigerian oil pollution appeal – Medium

•       Maria Khan – What are the legal tools for holding corporations to account globally? – Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

•       Marilyn Croser – Towards mandatory human rights due diligence in the UK: Developments and opportunities – Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

•       Martijn Boersma & Justine Nolan – Blockchain can help break the chains of modern slavery, but it is not a complete solution – The Conversation

•       Maysa Zorob and Antonella Angelini – Are shareholders the new champions of climate justice? – Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

•       Miriam Saage- Maaβ – Jabir et al vs. KiK: Do EU companies have an extraterritorial duty towards suppliers in global production chains? – BHR Journal Blog

•       Nora Götzmann – New UN Gender Guidance is a reminder that real equality requires tackling discrimination – Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

•       Peter Barnett – Shareholder litigation as the next frontier in shareholder climate action – Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

•       Phil Bloomer – Europe takes a big step towards companies having a ‘duty of care’ on human rights – Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

•       Sara Seck – Extraterritoriality: A Problem of Terminology – BHR Journal Blog

•       Sara Thornton – Listening to survivors, the role of business and supporting law enforcement  – Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Blog

•       Seunghyun Nam and Changrok Soh – Business and Human Rights in the Republic of Korea and Extraterritorial Jurisdiction – BHR Journal Blog

•       Shannan Burrow and Phil Bloomer – Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse? – EU Observer

•       Sonia HIerzig – Investors need to hold all sectors to account on climate change – not just the fossil fuel industry  – Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

•       Tom Wills – Stop Making The 'Business Case' For A Responsible Private Sector – Huffpost Blog

•       Urs Rybi – What does Switzerland's vote on mandatory due diligence mean - and what happens next? – Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

•       Walker Syachalinga – Vedanta v Lungowe: An irreconcilable regulatory outreach? – BHR Journal Blog

•       William Anderson – Mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence: A business perspective – Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

•       Yousuf Aftab – Business, Human Rights & the Limits of Law – Business & Human Rights Resource Centre


Call for Papers, Submissions and Abstracts 

•       Call for blogs – Business and Human Rights Journal Blog – Cambridge University

•       Call for session proposals and snapshot proposals – UN Forum on Business and Human Rights

•       Call for public consultation on the first draft of The Hague Rules on Business and Human Rights - CILC


Upcoming Events 

•       22-26 July 2019 – International Summer Course Human Rights Law in Context (special focus on business and human rights) – Centre for Human Rights Erlangen-Nürnberg in cooperation with the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, Nuremberg, Germany

•       12-13 September 2019 – Global Business and Human Rights Scholars Association 5th Annual Conference – University of Essex, Colchester, England

•       16-18 October 2019 – 4th Coimbra International Conference on Human Rights: a transdisciplinary approach – CIDH Coimba, Portugal

•       25-27 November 2019 – UN Forum on Business and Human Rights – Geneva, Switzerland

Comments are closed