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BRUSSELS – 11 NGOs are calling for new laws to compel EU based multi-nationals to respect human rights and the environment in global supply chains. Clean Clothes Campaign, Action Aid, Amnesty International, Anti-Slavery International, CIDSE, European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights, European Coalition for Corporate Justice, FIDH, Friends of the Earth Europe, Global Witness and Oxfam have issued a statement in the wake of legislative proposals on human rights and environmental due diligence that is set to be put forward by the European Commission in 2021.

“We refuse to allow businesses to close their eyes to the impact of their business decisions,” the organisations say.

Talk of EU rules around business and human rights in the supply chains of EU multi-nationals has been on the table for several years. However, the coronavirus pandemic, which has exposed massive vulnerabilities in global supply chains, appears to have focused minds on this issue within the EU. The concern, as always, is that big business lobbying will lead to a watering down of any proposed legislative reforms.

The statement adds: “We are convinced that new legislation is urgently needed to establish clear, robust and enforceable cross-sectoral requirements on business enterprises, including financial institutions, to respect human rights and the environment and to carry out due diligence.”

The statement continues: “Our joint statement on key principal elements follows the announcement of a in recognition of the fact that voluntary measures have proved to be vastly insufficient. Indeed, business enterprises domiciled or based in the EU, or active on the EU market continue to cause, contribute to or be directly linked to human rights abuses and environmental harms through their operations, value chains and business relations. This is despite their international responsibility to respect human rights set out in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).

“EU-wide legislation applicable to all business enterprises domiciled or based in the EU, or active on the EU market, will help prevent human rights abuses and environmental harms while ensuring a level playing field within the EU, a coherent legal framework, and increase leverage over third parties in the value chain.”

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