In June the Joint Committee on Human Rights announced a new inquiry into human rights and business.
The inquiry is looking at the government’s progress on implementing the UNGPs through its National Action Plan (NAP), published in 2013 and updated in May 2016. This follows an earlier JCHR inquiry into business and human rights conducted in 2009.
CORE’s Executive Director Marilyn Croser, Peter Frankental, Economic Relations Programme Director at Amnesty International UK and John Morrison, Chief Executive of the Institute for Human Rights and Business gave evidence to the committee on 20 July.
All three witnesses emphasised that the UK needs to do more if it wants to be seen as a leader on business and human rights.
In response to questions about the supply chain reporting requirement in the Modern Slavery Act, Marilyn Croser called on the government to publish a list of companies covered by the law, pointing out that without this, it is impossible to know which businesses are required to comply.
Government spending accounts for 3% of GDP, so integrating human rights into public procurement offers an immediate opportunity for action, but as Peter Frankental explained, the government has issued policy discouraging ‘boycotts’, which could deter public authorities from not entering into contracts with companies on human rights grounds.
Following further hearings in Autumn, the Committee will publish a report of its findings, with recommendations for the UK government.