A Legal newsflash on business and human rights Webversion
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Business and Human Rights Update
We are witnessing a legal avalanche relating to business and 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.
Will New York regulate on sustainability in fashion? | What will the European Court of Human Rights decide on climate and human rights? | The UK Government is sued over its climate policy | The links between corruption and human rights 

  • New York State can set a trend?
    A new bill proposed by New York State senators would put strong ESG reporting demands on fashion retailers and manufacturers. If passed later this spring, the law would require nearly all large multinational fashion brands doing business in New York to detail the largest human rights and environmental impacts in their supply chains: worker wages, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and water and chemical management. They would also be required to set specific reduction targets and timelines for reducing adverse impacts. Non-compliance could be met with fines of up to 2 per cent of annual revenue. Amid mixed reactions to the bill, top designer Stella McCartney has lent her support – as has Catarina Midby, the Head of Stockholm Fashion Week.

  • The European Court of Human Rights: forthcoming rulings on climate and human rights
    • Is further oil exploration in the Barents Sea in breach of human rights?
      On 15 June 2021, six climate activists and two environmental NGOs filed an application to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that the Norwegian government’s plan to grant new licences for Artic oil exploration is harming young people’s future and violates article 112 of the Norwegian constitution – the right to a healthy environment. The Court has now asked Norway to respond to the merits of the case by 13 April, on the basis that the case may be designated as an “impact” case, which is something that the court allows itself to do where “the conclusion of the case might lead to a change or clarification of international or domestic legislation or practice; the case touches upon moral or social issues; or the case deals with an emerging or otherwise significant human rights issue”. The court rules considerably quicker on such “impact” cases than on non-designated cases (which can take up to six years).

    • European Network of National Human Rights Institutions in support of a state obligation to prevent dangerous climate case
      On 1 December 2020, KlimaSeniorinnen filed an application against Switzerland arguing that Switzerland is not doing enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions, thereby exposing older women to life-threatening heatwaves in violation of the right to life and the right to private and family life under Articles 2 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Recently, the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions filed a third-party intervention in support of the applicant. As a basis for its argument, the network refers to the German Constitutional Court’s decision in Neubauer, et al. v. Germany (previously commented on in this Update) that even if a state is “incapable of halting climate change on its own”, it cannot “evade its responsibility” by pointing to GHG emissions in other states.

  • The UK Government is sued for alleged failure to take action on climate
    No one would have escaped the continued rise in climate litigation founded on human rights arguments against states and businesses. This time, NGOs have filed a case against the UK government. The case is based on the argument that the UK Government is failing to implement credible policies to deliver on its net zero strategy and, thereby, negatively impacting young people’s human right to life and family life.

  • Transparency International shows the links between corruption and human rights
    On 25 January, Transparency International released its Corruption Perception Index 2021. It shows that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused progress on anti-corruption to stall in many countries. This Update also particularly notes Transparency International’s conclusion on certain intrinsic links, for example: countries that violate civil liberties also score lower on the Corruption Perception Index; and countries with a high corruption score on the index account for the occurrence of almost all murders of human rights defenders around the world. One illustration of how companies’ anti-corruption and human rights due diligence efforts can help reinforce each other.

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. 

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Erica Wiking Häger, Partner, erica.wiking.hager@msa.se
Malin Helgesen, Specialist Counsel, malin.helgesen@msa.se
Peter Linderoth, Partner, peter.linderoth@msa.se
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