G20 Employment Group Receives Input on Sustainable Supply Chains
UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré
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The UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights issued an open letter to the members of the G20 Employment Working Group during its third meeting to prepare the 'Labour and Employment Ministers' Declaration'.

The letter makes recommendations for governments on addressing the linkages between private companies’ supply chains, and human rights and sustainable development.

28 March 2017: The UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights issued an open letter to the members of the Group of 20 (G20) Employment Working Group, regarding its preparation of a ministerial declaration on making global economic growth more inclusive. The letter is accompanied by a set of recommendations on improving the human rights impacts of supply chains.

The G20 Working Group met in Geneva, Switzerland, from 27-28 March 2017 to discuss the final declaration of the labour and employment ministers. The Working Group has chosen the promotion of sustainable global supply chains as one of its main focus areas.

The open letter, signed by Michael K. Addo, Chairperson of the UN Working Group, on behalf of its other members, addresses the linkages between private companies’ supply chains, and human rights and sustainable development. Addo notes that global supply chains are often associated with human rights violations and abuses, including “unsafe working conditions, child and forced labour, livelihoods destroyed by toxic industrial wastes, land seizures without compensation, and persecution of those who speak up against such abuse.”

The G20 should call on governments and business to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, says a UN working group.

The G20 is uniquely placed to address this, he writes, due to its large proportion of global economic output, world trade, and global population. The letter calls on governments to promote sustainable supply chains by protecting and respecting human rights, basing their supply chain commitments on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and referencing the Guiding Principles in the ministerial declaration on labour and employment and in the G20 Leaders’ Declaration, including with a call for governments and business to implement the Principles. The letter’s recommendations also suggest that governments can: protect human rights defenders; implement the “access to remedy;” create national action plans for implementing the Guiding Principles; work with multilateral institutions to ensure policy coherence and alignment with the Guiding Principles; and “lead by example” to ensure that state-owned or controlled businesses respect human rights.

The member States of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) unanimously endorsed the UN Guiding Principles in 2011 as the global standard for preventing and addressing business-related adverse human rights impacts. The UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights is mandated by the HRC to promote the effective and comprehensive dissemination and implementation of the Guiding Principles. Its experts are independent, unpaid and serve in their individual capacity.

The G20 Employment Working Group has met three times, with the March meeting focused on the content of the final declaration of the labour and employment ministers. Its fourth meeting is expected to convene the 16-17 March 2017, to finalize the Ministerial Declaration, directly followed by the Labour and Employment Ministers Meeting on 18-19 May 2017, in Bad Neuenahr, Germany.

The German Presidency aims to promote the G20 priority of inclusive economic growth and the fight against inequalities, with four specific focal areas for the Employment Working Group: shaping the future of work; improving the quality of female employment; integrating migrants and refugees into the labour market; and promoting sustainable global supply chains. [UN Press Release] [Open Letter] [OHCHR Press Release] [HRC Working Group] [G20 Employment Working Group]

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