Curbing Supply-Chain Human Rights Violations Through Trade and Due Diligence. Possible WTO Concerns Raised by the EU Conflict Minerals Regulation
Journal of World Trade 51(6) (2017, Forthcoming)
29 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2017 Last revised: 29 Jun 2017
Date Written: June 1, 2017
The recent adoption of the EU Regulation laying down supply chain due diligence obligations for Union importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating from conflict-affected and high-risk areas constitutes an important step to curb particularly heinous crimes connected to the so-called ‘conflict minerals’ supply chains. The EU measure is remarkable insofar it incorporates an international soft-law instrument, the Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas, and makes it mandatory for EU importers. Importers are under a mandatory obligation to engage in supply chain due diligence to avoid dealing in conflict minerals, and thus to regulate upstream entities. This contribution assesses the relation between such a regulatory strategy and provisions of WTO law. It assesses whether the EU bears responsibility for possible detrimental impacts stemming from the incorporation of the OECD Guidance and from the delegation of certain regulatory tasks to economic operators. Subsequently, it evaluates the status under international law of the OECD Guidance, and discusses whether its status can justify possible detrimental impacts stemming from the EU regime.
Keywords: WTO law, EU law, supply-chain regulations, OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises, conflict minerals
JEL Classification: K2, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation