Regulating Human Rights and Responsibilities in Global Supply Chains
The Social Effects of Global Trade. (Editors: Murray J, Malik A, Geschke A). Pan Stanford, USA 2017
1 Pages Posted: 21 May 2018 Last revised: 19 Jun 2018
Date Written: September 9, 2017
Today’s global supply chains link individual workers with large and small companies across national, political and cultural boundaries. These complex and vast supply chains are a litmus test for any corporate responsibility or business and human rights program that aims to enable respect for human rights. The supply chain is an area of potential commercial (including reputational) risk for companies. Evolving acceptance of a company’s responsibility to respect all human rights is making it more difficult for businesses to disassociate themselves from human rights violations that inevitably arise in many global supply chains that business may be directly or indirectly involved with. However, despite the rhetoric around the acceptance of a company’s responsibility to respect human rights, ambiguity still remains as to whom such responsibility might be attributed to, and whether such responsibility includes accountability for wrongdoings. Any desire or attempt to compartmentalize human rights responsibilities to a particular company or within particular geographical boundaries is exacerbated by direct and indirect corporate linkages in global supply chains. Each company along that supply chain has a responsibility to respect human rights – but where does that responsibility begin and end? How might responsibility be shared and is there a difference between responsibility and accountability?
Keywords: human rights, supply chains, corporate responsibility, labor rights, business
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