Today, 36 UK-based companies have campaigned for lawmakers to step up human rights due diligence and environmental gray areas.
Asos, Primark, Tesco and the British Retail Consortium are among organizations ‘calling on the UK government to urgently introduce new UK law to hold businesses to account when they fail to prevent human rights abuses. ‘man and environmental damage’, according to a joint statement.
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While the UK was the first to draft measures in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights, which celebrated their 10th anniversary this month, some business and civil society leaders claim that progress under voluntary approaches has not been sufficient. In addition, the body argues that existing laws (such as the Modern Slavery Act) are “not fit for purpose” to prevent forced labor abuses and modern slavery, according to a statement.
The companies are pushing for a new law that requires companies of all sizes and sectors, financial organizations and the public sector to undertake ‘combined’ ‘human rights and environmental due diligence’ in their supply chains. For example, the Environment Bill (currently in a ping-pong of revisions as it appears to be passed ahead of the UN climate summit, or COP26) includes deforestation but does not make a “full ” with human rights, according to the group.
“A new law would also ensure that the UK is in line with other countries introducing new corporate liability laws incorporating mandatory due diligence. As the EU pushes ahead with its proposal to impose new due diligence obligations on all businesses operating in the single market, the absence of strong UK national legislation means the UK will immediately take behind the EU in terms of human rights and environmental protection. statement, which goes on to say that a “confusing patchwork of regulations and an uncertain landscape for business” is the lot with current means.
Expressing his enthusiasm for companies leading the charge, Simon Platts, director of responsible sourcing at Asos (a company calling for action) believes that such legislation “has the power to protect workers and offer positive benefits to people around the world” by making companies legally responsible for “eradicating human rights and environmental risks” across borders.
With news that Asos CEO Nick Beighton resigned earlier this month amid supply chain issues, the focus on profitability – and becoming a £4billion business in the past next four years – will remain essential, the company noted. Yet the company confuses profitability with advocacy, referring to its fifth statement issued condemning modern slavery last April.
To a greater extent, world leaders are feeling the pressure to push things through as climate takes center stage at global summits.
In the United States, the Biden administration is racing to deliver on its $2 trillion green pledges, particularly on emissions reduction legislation ahead of COP26.
Mark Dearn, director of the Corporate Justice Coalition, put it bluntly: “As other countries move forward with new legal liability laws that are urgently needed to keep up with the changing nature business, the UK government cannot continue to bury its head in the sand saying that voluntary commitments are enough. Dearn added that “businesses and investors want it, people and the planet need it, and the government must step in and act.
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