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Tuesday, November 17 • 13:00 - 14:00
Mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence: building out the key components of effective legislation

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Session organized by the Working Group on Business and Human rights in collaboration with SHIFT and the European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ)

Brief description of the session:
This panel session would bring together key global practitioners to provide their perspectives and expertise on some of the critical questions facing policymakers as they seek to construct MHRDD legislation that delivers both increased accountability for those whose human rights have been negatively affected by business and more and better effort on the part of companies to prevent human rights impacts in the first place.

Key specific objectives of the session:
The session aims to explore and understand developments on MHRDD at the EU level, while considering the perspectives and impacts on non-WEOG stakeholders.
Key questions:
  • What set of measures – including consequences, incentives, support and guidance – should be included in, or accompany, MHRDD legislation to ensure that companies carry out due diligence to the full scope of their responsibility under the UN Guiding Principles?
  • What considerations should be made to avoid a ‘tick-box’ approach to due diligence and to encourage the business behaviors and practices that deliver outcomes for people who may be or are affected by business activity?
  • How would WEOG-driven MHRDD regimes affect businesses and people in non-WEOG countries? What are their perspectives and interests in such legislation? External impacts of EU legislation – but also supporting measures to advance domestic BHR initiatives

Background to the discussion:
A growing number of states, particularly in Europe, are actively considering mandatory measures to advance business respect for human rights. In France, the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, the UK, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, for example, we see governments adopting or exploring mandatory measures as part of a ‘smart mix’ of policy tools to incentivize business respect for human rights. We are also seeing enhanced use of customs controls to tackle human rights risks in global value chains, in the US with respect to forced labor and at the EU level on conflict minerals. Many of these actual and proposed measures go beyond reporting obligations to encompass comprehensive human rights due diligence and even include advances in judicial access to remedy for victims. Such measures are beginning to receive support from an increasingly diverse cross-section of businesses and investors, as well as from civil society:

The debate on the role of comprehensive human rights due diligence regulation at the EU-level was invigorated when Commissioner Reynders (DG Justice) announced a process towards introducing a legislative proposal for mandatory human rights due diligence (MHRDD) in 2021, which would potentially create a harmonized framework across Europe. While there appears to be support among stakeholders for such a legislative due diligence framework, there is no consensus yet on what type of framework would both meet the expectations of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and incentivize and/or require the rights kinds of behaviors by business to make implementation meaningful in practice.

In addition, the debate to date has been largely Euro-centric. The views and considerations of stakeholders outside of WEOG have not been sufficiently included in the conversation.

The session will help inform the WG’s project ‘Business and human rights: towards a decade of global implementation' (also known as “UNGPs 10+ / Next Decade BHR”). Centred around the upcoming tenth anniversary of the UNGPs, the project is taking stock of practice to date, identifying gaps and challenges, and developing a vision and roadmap for scaling up implementation of the UNGPs over the course of the next decade. In recognition of evidence of what constitute some of the strongest drivers for changing business practice, the project is dedicating attention to the role of more effective regulatory drivers and specifically mHRDD as part of the “smart mix” prescribed by the UNGPs for Government action. In this context, the WG has issued recommendations regarding the legislative proposal on human rights and environmental due diligence in Europe.

avatar for Anita Ramasastry

Anita Ramasastry

Special Repesentaitive to Chair on Combatting Corruption, OSCE
Anita Ramasastry is the Henry M Jackson Professor of Law and the Director of the Sustainable International Development Graduate program at the University of Washington. She researches in the fields of business and human rights, anti-corruption, law and sustainable development. From... Read More →

avatar for Claudia Saller

Claudia Saller

Coordinator, European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ)
Stephen Cotton is General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), a global union federation of 700 trade unions representing nearly 20 million transport workers in 150 countries in the maritime, port, aviation, road, rail and urban transport sectors... Read More →
avatar for Francis West

Francis West

Business Engagement Director, Shift
As Shift’s Business Engagement Director, Francis oversees Shift's work providing expert advice to a select group of companies that are serious about human rights. Shift is committed to using the knowledge that we help generate to build broader understanding of the practical application... Read More →
avatar for Ruwan SUBASINGHE


Legal Director, The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF)
Ruwan Subasinghe is Legal Director at the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), a global trade union body representing over 18.5 million workers in 147 countries. He specialises in labour, human rights, and international law. Ruwan represents the ITF at external bodies... Read More →
avatar for Théo Jaekel

Théo Jaekel

Corporate Responsibility Expert - Business and Human Rights, Ericsson
Legal counsel responsible for human rights at group level, across Ericsson's value chain. This includes issues related to responsible sourcing and the end use of Ericsson technology.
avatar for Rosa van den Beemt

Rosa van den Beemt

VP, Responsible Investment Analyst, BMO Global Asset Management
As part of the Responsible Investment team at BMO Global Asset Management, Rosa engages with investee companies to improve their practices, policies and oversight on a variety of issues including human rights. She also serves on the Advisory Committee of the Investor Alliance for... Read More →
avatar for Lara Wolters

Lara Wolters

Member, European Parliament

Tuesday November 17, 2020 13:00 - 14:00 CET
Virtual Room 2