December 11, 2013
At-Risk Industries Urged to Address Human Trafficking in Supply Chains
by Robert Kropp
The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility announces that members will engage with
companies in the food-agricultural and hospitality sectors to ensure that human rights in supply
chains are being met.
Yesterday was International Human Rights Day, and members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate
Responsibility (ICCR) used the occasion to announce engagements with companies in the
food-agricultural and hospitality industry sectors, addressing human rights in corporate supply
For the next month, ICCR members will
urge the targeted companies—which include ADM, ConAgra, Costco, Darden Restaurants, Kroger,
Mondelez Int’l, Target, and Walmart in the food-agricultural sector; the hospitality companies are
Choice, Delta, Hyatt, Starwood, US Airways, Wyndham, and Southwest—to implement corporate policies
to help prevent human rights abuses in their supply chains.
“Both sectors are deemed at
risk for human rights violations, including unethical recruitment practices which prey on
vulnerable workers such as charging fees for jobs,” ICCR stated.
The basis for the
engagements will be the Statement of
Principles and Recommended Practices for Confronting Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery
published in November by ICCR.
“One of the key measures ICCR members use to assess
corporate performance is how well the dignity of the human person is respected both within a
company’s own supply chains and in the communities impacted by their operations,” the document
states. “A fundamental measure of good company performance is the adoption and implementation of a
comprehensive, transparent and verifiable human rights policy.”
The responsibility of
businesses for human rights in supply chains as well as in the communities in which they operate
was highlighted by the endorsement in 2011 by the United Nations Human Rights Council of Guiding
Principles on Business and Human Rights. Included in the Guiding Principles is the
responsibility of corporations “to respect human rights, which means to act with due diligence to
avoid infringing on the rights of others and to address adverse impacts that occur; and greater
access by victims to effective remedy, both judicial and non-judicial.”
A report published
earlier this year by the Internati
onal Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) found “numerous areas where further action is
needed” by the US government to ensure that corporations adopt the Guiding Principles in their
In 2012, California enacted the Transparency in Supply Chains Act,
which requires retailers and manufacturers whose global revenue exceeds $100 million to publicly
disclose their polices and practices relating to human trafficking in their supply chains. ICCR is
a member of Know the Chain, launched to
promote greater transparency and dialogue relating to human trafficking in corporate supply chains.
The initiative seeks to “assist companies in building ethical and fair supply chains free of forced
labor and trafficking.”
“International Human Rights Day is not only a time to call on
governments to protect the rights of their citizens,” David Schilling of ICCR stated. “Corporations
also have the responsibility to respect human rights by putting in place a 'human rights due
diligence' process that requires knowing what their impacts are and showing what they are doing to
prevent abuses and address any violations that have occurred.”
“Companies are compelled
not only to do their due diligence within their own operations but to ensure that their business
partners and suppliers are also aware and rooting out these practices,” Schilling continued.
Noting that the Statement of Principles has been endorsed by nearly 500 organizations and
individuals, Sr. Kathleen Coll of CHE Trinity Health said, “These first fifteen companies are only
the first round in an ongoing initiative that will include many more companies and other sectors at
risk for human rights abuses, such as companies in the electronic and retail sectors.”
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