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Human Rights

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Exploring Canada’s Unique Response to Business and Human Rights Thursday, October 28, 202112:00 pm – 1:00 pm ET Join Baker McKenzie Partner, Kevin Coon for a conversation with Canada’s first Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise, Sheri Meyerhoffer.June 2021 marked the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), the leading global framework for the respective duties and responsibilities of governments and businesses to safeguard human rights in economic activities.To address international…

On October 8, the US Department of Labor (“DOL”) published a notice requesting information and comments on the following three reports on child labor and forced labor practices in foreign countries that are published by the US Bureau of International Labor Affairs (“ILAB”).  The comments will be used in preparing the 2022 edition of the TDA Report and TVPRA List, as well as any updates to the E.O. List.  The three reports are the US…

On 15 September, during the 2021 State of the Union Address, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the European Commission’s intention to introduce a ban on the import of products made with forced labour into the EU market. In her Address, the Commission President noted that there are “25 million people…who are threatened or coerced into forced labour” and that “doing business around the world…can never be done at the expense of people’s…

Yesterday, as part of its annual Virtual Trade Week series, US Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) issued a list of Frequently Asked Questions on forced labor (“the FAQs”).  The FAQs consist of responses to ten questions focused on current issues and latest developments in forced labor enforcement.  As mentioned in the FAQs, in FY2020 (October 1, 2019 – September 30, 2020), CBP set a record by issuing 13 Withhold Release Orders (“WROs”), detaining over $55…

On 12 July the European Commission and the European External Actions Service (EEAS) published guidance on “due diligence for EU businesses to address the risk of forced labour in their operations and supply chains”. The non-binding guidance seeks to provide European companies with practical advice on the implementation of effective human rights due diligence practices to address forced labour risks in their supply chains. It also provides an overview of international standards and principles on responsible business…

In the recent flurry of US Government activity related to Xinjiang, one thing is clear: trade compliance risks continue to increase for companies with supply chains that involve Xinjiang. These latest actions add to the expanding list of companies that face import bans, export bans, and sometimes both, in addition to broader measures under consideration in Congress. This blog post summarizes the past month’s developments. Companies with Xinjiang anywhere in their supply chains should be…

Background on Lawsuit In a 8-1 decision issued last week, the U.S. Supreme Court seemingly brought an end to a 15-year lawsuit brought against Nestlé and Cargill by Malian citizens who claim to have been enslaved as children on cocoa plantations located in the Ivory Coast.  Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that Nestlé and Cargill knew the cocoa plantations used child labor, and aided and abetted the human rights abuses that they and other child laborers…

In another sign of the increasing commitment of the United States to curtail the importation of goods made by forced labor, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has issued a Withhold Release Order (WRO) against a Chinese fishing fleet for suspected use of forced labor in its fishing operations.  The WRO instructs CBP personnel at all U.S. ports of entry to detain tuna, swordfish, and other seafood that has been harvested by a fleet…

On March 5, 2021, US Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) issued a new factsheet regarding how Withhold Release Orders (“WROs”) might be modified or revoked by CBP (“WRO Modification and Revocation Guidance”), which builds upon previous guidance by CBP on similar issues, including the factsheet issued on August 6, 2020. As a reminder, a WRO can be issued when CBP reasonably (but not conclusively) believes that certain goods are mined, produced, or manufactured, wholly or…

Introduction The UK, US, and Canadian governments have recently announced a range of new measures in relation to human rights violations alleged to be taking place in Xinjiang, China. The new measures include enhanced due diligence requirements for companies with links to the region in order to identify and remove the use of forced labor from their supply chains. The move further underlines the importance of effective supply-chain risk management for companies with complex global…