Public Policies for Fair Supply Chains

BACKGROUND

Extreme poverty and human rights violations still prevail in many global supply chains. In order to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, a collaborative and holistic approach to regulating supply chains is needed. Voluntary approaches, by demonstrating best practices and encouraging companies to improve their practices, have led to some progress. However, in order to achieve large scale change, mandatory legislation is needed. Some legislative measures are being adopted at national level, such as the UK Modern Slavery Act and the French Due Diligence Law, but to ensure a level playing field for companies, a harmonised approach to mandatory regulation at EU level is required.


WHAT ARE THE FTAO’S VIEWS?

We call on the European Commission to adopt a comprehensive model to regulate and support fair and sustainable supply chains through:

  • Mandatory due diligence legislation for companies, including the responsibility of companies to adopt sustainable purchasing practices which enable living incomes for farmers and workers
  • Bilateral agreements with producer countries (involving civil society); including development and cooperation support to contribute to sustainable local development and the definition and enforcement of relevant legislative frameworks
  • Coherent and supportive trade practices
  • A safe space for companies to discuss sustainability issues and clarification of to what extent competition law can allow cooperation for sustainability purposes
  • Constructive support to the UN binding treaty process on business and human rights

We ask for regulation in all sectors, but we believe there is potential for immediate progress in the cocoa and textile sectors. 


FURTHER READING

UN Zero Draft Legally Binding Instrument to Regulate, in International Human Rights Law, the activities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises (Zero Draft Treaty)

The OECD guidelines for responsible business conduct

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre 

French Due Diligence Law

The UK Modern Slavery Act, 2015

Open Letter Finnish Presidency 2019


You can find out how this work links to our work on EU policies here.