Current research in the BHRE Research Group includes:
Modern Slavery and Human Rights in Global Supply Chain
The governance gaps associated with globalisation and international business activities give rise to a need to find more effective ways to ensure that human rights, adequate labour standards and environmental protection are recognised within global supply chains. In recent years international efforts to fight modern slavery, forced labour and human trafficking have increased and involve both public actors and private corporations.
Research in this area includes work on legal mechanisms through which to address supply chain challenges, the implications and operationalisation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in supply chains and the development of effective processes for monitoring supply chain conditions and addressing grievances. Our research focuses on the normative developments to protect human rights from modern slavery, forced labour and human trafficking, especially in the framework of the application of the California Transparency Act (USA) and the Modern Slavery Act (UK). We are working with public bodies and private companies to guide and support them to draft their Modern Slavery Transparency in the Supply Chain Statement through our training and consultancy services. For our work on Modern Slavery and Public Procurement click here.
Extractive Industries, Human Rights and Community Relations
The standard of corporate human rights due diligence has become central to the definition of the corporate responsibility to respect human rights. The normative development of this standard is taking place, among others, within the framework of the national and international efforts to regulate conflict minerals and break the link between mining and financing of illegal armed groups. Our work has explored this regulation and its impact on the development of due diligence requirements and practice. We have also focused more generally on the interactions between conflict (widely understood as social conflict, including armed conflict), business and human rights and are part of a leading network on the topic, the Network on Business, Conflict and Human Rights. We are also part of CEIDA, a network on CSR in Extractive Industries in Developing Areas, lead by the Institute for Social Innovation, ESADE (Barcelona).
Also within this area of work, William Rook is engaged with doctoral research into the legal framework governing mining and local communities in parts of Africa. The research seeks to understand the complex legal and regulatory relationships between key actors including local communities, multinational corporations, international institutions and home and host states and to understand the implications of these in terms of particular rights.
Ms. Veronica Torres' doctorate looks at land use, land rights and human rights in the context of those industries which rely on the exploitation of land in Latin America, including extractive and agribusiness industries. Veronica coordinates the Land Rights and Social Conflict Working Group of the Network on Business, Conflict and Human Rights.
Socially Responsible Public Procurement
States are the primary bearers of the obligation to protect human rights against violations committed by third parties, including companies. Whilst public procurement has been used to achieve social objectives for decades, it is only recently that it is being considered a tool for the promotion and protection of human rights in the global supply chain. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights mention public procurement as one of the instruments available to the state to fulfil its duty to protect (UNGP 6). We are at the forefront of this research with our work on socially responsible public procurement of electronics and modern slavery, forced labour and human trafficking on the public supply chain. Our collaborative work with civil society organisation led to the creation of Electronics Watch, an independent monitoring organisation working to achieve respect for labour rights in the global electronics industry through socially responsible public purchasing in Europe. As part of the informal Advisory Group, we have worked directly with Electronics Watch on the development of key aspects of the initiative including due diligence guidance, a code of labour standards and contract performance clauses. Olga is also a member of its Board of Trustees. In December 2016 the BHRE hosted the first Electronics Watch Affiliate Meeting.
The BHRE is a member of the International Learning Lab on Human Rights and Public Procurement, a network of academics and NGOs producing policy relevant research to further develop the potential of socially responsible public procurement and advice governments on how to capitalise their buying power. The BHRE leads the Electronics Hub of the International Learning Lab.
We have also worked closely with the London Universities Purchasing Consortium (LUPC), to which Olga is a member of its Board of Directors, to support London universities, art galleries, museums, theatres and music venues to manage their human rights risks in the supply chain. Nation-wide we provide training through the Higher Education Procurement Academy (HEPA). See our training and consultancy services.
Business, Children and Human Rights
Business activities may have a significant impact on the human rights of children, positive and negative, direct and indirect. Consideration of the role of the private business sector with regards to the fulfilment of children’s rights is relatively recent. International attention on the effects business activities have on children has been fragmented until now, focussing on specific sectors, mainly child labour and economic exploitation. Recent international developments, addressed to states and business enterprises, propose a more comprehensive approach.
Our work in this area explores the international policy and legal developments in this very recent area of research, undertaking a comprehensive approach which takes into consideration all the actors involved in the protection and promotion of children’s rights, and moves away from a solely state-centric conception of international human rights obligations and responsibilities. Our work on modern slavery, forced labour and human trafficking has a special focus on the right of children.