Companies in the UK must intensify their efforts to tackle human rights violations in global supply chains, Fairtrade Foundation has said, as it pledges to advance human rights principles in business. The call came as part of a new Human Rights Commitment published by Fairtrade, which affirms the organisation’s responsibility to tackle human rights violations in supply chains and encourages businesses to step up their work on Human Rights Due Diligence.
The Fairtrade Human Rights Commitment is the result of three years of dialogue among Fairtrade’s producer networks (representing farmers and workers), national Fairtrade organisations and other stakeholders across Africa, Asia-Pacific, the Americas and Europe. Co-ordinated by Fairtrade International, the Foundation’s parent body, the commitment comes at a time when the economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to amplify the vulnerability of farmers, workers and their families in the global south.
In the commitment paper, Fairtrade pledges to align its policies and processes with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which set a global standard for preventing and addressing the risk of adverse human rights impacts linked to business activity. At the same time, Fairtrade has outlined concrete recommendations to strengthen legal frameworks to achieve responsible business conduct and corporate responsibility in all global supply chains.
CEO of Fairtrade International Darío Soto Abril said: “Our message today is a turning point. Even Fairtrade, which manages a voluntary instrument for responsible business conduct, clearly states that voluntary measures undertaken by companies aren’t enough to tackle human rights violations, poverty and environmental harms. Public authorities and businesses must be legally obligated to take their responsibilities seriously if we are ever going to halt increasing injustice in supply chains.”