G7 leaders must follow supply chain promise with 'concrete action', says UN

17 June 2015

The G7 group of nations’ pledge to support human rights in global supply chains must be backed up by action, the UN has said.

The United Nations Working Group on business and human rights welcomed the commitment made by G7 leaders to promote labour rights, decent working conditions and environmental protection in global supply chains. Last week's declaration from the G7 leaders’ summit highlighted unsafe and poor working conditions as among the top challenges facing the world economy.

The UN working group is urging states, business groups and companies across the world to put into practice the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as the globally agreed standard for addressing human rights challenges in business activities.

Adopted by the United Nations member states in 2011, the standard includes three ‘pillars’, which all governments and companies are expected to implement.

Under the ‘State Duty to Protect', the guiding principles recommend how governments should provide greater clarity of expectations and consistency of rule for business in relation to human rights. The ‘Corporate Responsibility to Respect’ principles provide a blueprint for companies on how to know and show that they are respecting human rights. The ‘Access to Remedy’ principles focus on ensuring that there is adequate accountability and effective redress, judicial and non-judicial, where people are harmed by business activities.

Human rights expert and leader of the working group Michael Addo said: “We welcome this unprecedented show of commitment from the highest level in some of the world’s major economies to improve business conduct in supply chains. Now, this commitment must be translated into concrete action to ensure transparency and accountability.”

He added: “It is encouraging that the G7 nations are committed to putting this issue also on the agenda of the G20. It is critical that all major economies in the world get behind this movement. G7 leaders must now ensure words are followed by meaningful action, to the benefit of workers and communities affected by business operations around the world.”

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