A Legal newsflash on business and human rights Webversion
279 logo v%c3%a4nsterst%c3%a4lld neg
1153 bhrupdate8
Business and Human Rights Update
We are witnessing a legal avalanche relating to businesses’ respect for human rights. Our Business and Human Rights Updates will keep you advised of initiatives of relevance to your business. We are also constantly chasing new tools to enable businesses to identify and effectively address potential harm to people and the environment. Ultimately, what protects people (and the planet) is also what best protects businesses.
The EU Commission is delaying its proposal for Sustainable Corporate Governance legislation…

Rumours have for some time suspected that the EU Commission would postpone publicising its proposal for Sustainable Corporate Governance legislation until the fall. Read about possible reasons in Politico.

… but national regulators and authorities continue to effect import trade barriers for products manufactured under conditions amounting to serious human rights violations…

Regardless of whether the EU delays its proposal for mandatory human rights due diligence legislation, we are seeing increasing trade barriers for products made by the hands of forced labourers; and companies may want to continue their human rights due diligence efforts to avoid having their products stuck at the borders of business critical markets.
In February, this Update looked at signs that the EU may be contemplating making human rights a single market access criteria. At their recent Summit, the G7 members expressed concern about the use of forced labour in global supply chains and signalled that they will discuss joint efforts at their next meeting in October. Recent weeks have seen other signs that governments are more actively pursuing trade restrictions on products produced under duress.
  • On 17 June, a Committee of the Australian Senate issued its report recommending e.g., “to prohibit the import of any goods made wholly or in part with forced labour, regardless of geographic origin” and to empower the Australian Border Force to be able to issue rebuttable presumptions for specific goods, companies and/or regions with particularly high risk of being associated with forced labour.

  • On 1 July, US, Mexican and Canadian officials pronounced they are taking steps to coordinate efforts and enforcement measures to achieve an integrated North American process to prohibit the import of goods produced with forced labour. Banning imported products made with forced labour is a requirement under the US-Mexico-Canada trade pact.

  • The US Customs and Border Protection has increased its focus on silica-based products and polysilicon and other industries in Xinjiang; the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security has added five new Chinese companies in the green energy sector to its export control list (Entity List) “for participating in the practice of, accepting, or utilizing forced labor in Xinjiang and contributing to human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other minority groups in Xinjiang”.
…and national courts continue to reject their governments’ climate policies on the basis that they are violating human rights

On 17 June, the Brussels Court of First Instance added itself to the growing list of national courts ruling that their governments’ climate change policies are in violation of, among other things, the rights to life and to freedom of privacy and family life under the European Convention of Human Rights. Unlike its colleagues in for instance the Netherlands and Germany, the court also found that it would breach the principle of separation of powers for the court to determine the obligations of a public authority. Therefore, it rejected the claimant’s claim for an injunction to require the defendant authorities to change their climate policies.  

Happy summer!

Unless something that calls for your immediate attention happens, this update will now take a brief summer break and be back in August.
If you have questions or want to discuss any of these issues, you can always reach out to your existing contacts at the firm. You are also welcome to contact the members of our Corporate Sustainability and Risk Management team, some of whom are listed at the bottom of this page. 

Have you signed up for email updates on Business and Human Rights?
If you have not signed up already, but would like us to send you recurring updates just like this one, please let us know by using the button below.
Sign up for these updates

Erica Wiking Häger, Partner, erica.wiking.hager@msa.se
Malin Helgesen, Specialist Counsel, malin.helgesen@msa.se
Peter Linderoth, Partner, peter.linderoth@msa.se
Click to visit us on LinkedIn Click to visit us our homepage