UK multinational companies may come under pressure to follow fair and clean practices in their global operations. This includes an end to exploitative working conditions, including modern slavery and child labor; toxic pollution; rampant destruction of rainforests; land-grabs and evictions of indigenous peoples and local communities; and violent attacks on human rights defenders.
Apparel brands, which do much of their sourcing from Asia, would potentially be hugely impacted by such regulations. There are still no laws in the UK specifically requiring companies to take action to prevent and rectify human rights abuses and environmental damage. Instead, companies seek to profit by undercutting more responsible operators who are trying to raise standards. Meanwhile, British consumers are at risk of buying products tainted by abuses and environmental devastation. A new law would increase protection for individuals and communities, workers, human rights defenders, and the environment. It would create clarity and a level playing field for companies.
Moves to regulate due diligence issues within global supply chains are already afoot at the EU level and within the UN as well as within individual EU states such as Germany and France. Around the world, policy makers, business leaders, academics and campaigners are coming together to work for legislative change to end irresponsible corporate practices.