Human Rights Disclosure and Due Diligence Laws: The Role of Regulatory Oversight in Ensuring Corporate Accountability
45 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2019 Last revised: 12 May 2021
Date Written: July 13, 2020
The proliferation of human rights disclosure and due diligence laws around the globe is a welcome development in the area of business and human rights. Corresponding improvement in conditions for workers and communities in global supply chains whose human rights are impacted by businesses has not materialized, however. In this article, we focus on the oversight and enforcement features of human rights disclosure and due diligence laws as among the missing links to achieving the accountability objectives envisaged by such legislation. Drawing on our analysis of the key legislative developments, we observe and critique that the state has almost completely withdrawn itself from the oversight and enforcement roles and assigned these crucial accountability functions solely to consumers, civil society, and investors. Without a regulatory mechanism to ensure quality of human rights disclosures and due diligence processes and impose sanctions for failing to comply with the laws, not only may the disclosures and processes be inadequate, but there is a danger that misleading disclosures and flawed processes may mask harmful impacts and be detrimental to any hopes of vindicating the rights of workers and communities in global supply chains. We offer a new perspective on a more effective approach to oversight and enforcement in which the state should function as a key actor through which consumers, civil society, and investors can hold businesses accountable.
Keywords: Human rights, modern slavery, reporting, due diligence, corporations, regulatory oversight
JEL Classification: K22, K38, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation