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Wednesday, December 1 • 10:25am - 11:40am
Implications of mandatory human rights due diligence for SMEs: a path towards a better protection of persons in most vulnerable situations?

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Session organized  by the International Trade Center Trade for Sustainable Development department and the UN Working Group on business and human rights
Interpretation will be available in English, French and Spanish

Short description of the session:
After more than two decades of private governance initiatives to promote corporate social responsibility and responsible business conduct, human rights, labour rights and environmental rights continue to be violated within global supply chains. Particularly vulnerable are the millions of workers lower down the supply chain- including women, migrant and children workers who constitute a ‘hidden’ workforce, remaining constantly at risk. To address this, the European Commission in 2020 announced that it will release the draft of a new mandatory HREDD legislation in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The panel will explore implications of this legislation for SMEs in contributing to building a more decent supply chains. It will also reflect on the role of other “smart mix” measures which could complement mandatory HREDD legislation to prevent, mitigate and remediate human rights abuses. Building on ITC’s active work on inclusive trade and SMEs, the session will look at the power of SMEs to bring about transformational change, drive poverty and inequality reduction, and ‘lift up the bar’ for the most at-risk rights-holders to be at the centre of all business efforts.

  • Illustrate the need for ‘smart mix’ approaches to ensure that human rights and environmental standards are uphold in supply chains
  • Explore the risks and opportunities brought by the EU legislation for SMEs in the Global South and demonstrate the crucial role of SMEs in ensuring that basic human rights are protected
  • Explain how ITC, OHCHR and the UN Working Group on business and human rights could support SMEs and provide solutions for human rights-holders to be put at the centre of any business decisions

Key discussion questions:
  • How will the new EU legislation affect SMEs in the Global South?
  • What tools and type of support will be needed to implement the law in a meaningful way, for the workers and  communities on the Global South?
  • How to avoid that the HREDD responsibility and compliance burden is all shifted to SMEs?
  • What opportunity this new legislative context can bring for SMEs?

Background to the discussion
The European Union’s proposed mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence (mHREDD) legislation will have significant consequences for companies and supply chains worldwide. The session will explore the challenges and opportunities of the law for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). It will discuss how SMEs in the Global South will play a crucial role in ensuring that human and environmental rights are fully respected in the production and manufacturing of commodities reaching the European markets, and adequately promoted in their communities.

avatar for Shemina Amarsy

Shemina Amarsy

Sustainability Advisor, International Trade Centre (ITC)
Shemina Amarsy works for the International Trade Center (ITC) as Advisor on Sustainability Standards & Value Chains. ITC is an international organization focused on trade development for developing and transition economies and dedicated to supporting the internationalization of small... Read More →

avatar for Johnson, Ching-Yin Yeung

Johnson, Ching-Yin Yeung

Regional Campaigner, Clean Clothes Campaign
Johnson Ching-Yin Yeung is a Hong Kong human rights defender, He is Regional Campaigner at the Clean Clothes Campaign, a global network dedicated to improving working conditions and empowering workers in the global garment and sportswear industries. He is Chairperson of the Amnes... Read More →
avatar for Tyler Gillard

Tyler Gillard

Head of Sector Projects and Legal Adviser, OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)
Tyler Gillard is the Head of Due Diligence and Senior Legal Adviser in the OECD Centre for Responsible Business Conduct. He leads the OECD’s work on due diligence in the financial, textiles, mining & metals, oil & gas and agriculture sectors. Tyler joined the OECD in 2009 to lead... Read More →
avatar for Blake Harwell

Blake Harwell

Senior Policy Advisor, Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the OECD
Since 2019 has covered the OECD Responsible Business Conduct policy agenda, including the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct. Prior to TUAC, Blake worked on international relations for the United States... Read More →
avatar for Cécile Billaux

Cécile Billaux

Head of Unit, European Commission
Cécile Billaux has been working for the European Commission for more than 15 years holding various positions in relation to health, climate, development and trade. She just joined DG DEVCO/INTPA as Head of the Private Sector, Trade and investment Unit. Before that, she worked for... Read More →

Wednesday December 1, 2021 10:25am - 11:40am CET
Virtual Plenary room