Thomson Reuters Foundation convenes leading companies to tackle the threat to human rights in global supply chains during the COVID-19 crisis

by Thomson Reuters Foundation
Monday, 18 January 2021 10:51 GMT

A child labourer carries bricks in Bihar-e-Sharif town, about 60 km (37 miles) from Patna April 9, 2007. REUTERS/Adeel Halim (INDIA)

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the global economy, workers within supply chains are being adversely impacted. In response to these urgent challenges, in April 2020 the Thomson Reuters Foundation formed a community of leading companies to share best practice on ways to uphold the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Today, this corporate community, comprising ALDI SÜD Group, Bower Swimwear, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Japan Tobacco International (JTI), Mars, Marshalls PLC, Outland Denim, Omnia Strategy  Refinitiv, Tesco, Thomson Reuters, released a joint statement in support of the European Commission’s Sustainable Corporate Governance Initiative.  Read statement here.

Launched by the European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, the initiative aims to improve EU regulatory framework on company law and corporate governance and to help companies better manage social and environmental matters in their operations and value chains. 

In support of the initiative, the community:

  • welcomes the intent of the European Commission’s Sustainable Corporate Governance initiative, particularly given the importance of human rights due diligence in addressing the issue of modern-day slavery. 
  • acknowledges that many corporations have established policy commitments to meet their responsibility to respect human rights while recognising that more actions are required across the private sector to achieve our shared goals.
  • supports the principles reflected in the initiative, while acknowledging the technical work required to develop and refine an effective legislative framework; and
  • is committed to engaging constructively with the European Union and other stakeholders throughout the legislative process.

“The Thomson Reuters Foundation believes that ending modern slavery and developing fair and sustainable business models is critical to building inclusive economies, a core focus of our work. These issues have been augmented by the current global health crisis; tackling them demands a coordinated response across sectors.  We are proud to use our convening power to help  build a community of global businesses that are leading the way in respecting and upholding human rights across business operations and in supply chains,” said Antonio Zappulla, CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“The prevalence of modern slavery across the world and throughout countless supply chains is a tragedy and remains one of the greatest human rights challenges of our time, alongside responding to the pandemic, the climate emergency and other global crises. I am proud to work with the Thomson Reuters Foundation and leading businesses as they help to build more inclusive economies based on respect for human rights. We hope these ongoing efforts will be bolstered by the EU’s initiative, which could be transformative if we get it right.  Delivering effective legislation requires sustained collaboration by the private sector, civil society and policy-makers, and I commend the corporate community brought together by the Thomson Reuters Foundation for stepping up and doing their part,” said Cherie Blair ,CBE, QC Co-Founder and Chair Omnia Strategy.

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