SCIAF calls for more protection for the environment and human rights
12 January 2024
SCIAF is calling on the UK Government to follow the example of the EU and introduce a new law protecting human rights, the environment and the climate.
Around the world, companies, financial institutions and public bodies are linked to serious human rights abuses, worker exploitation and environmental harm, through their operations, products and services. This has a direct link to us in Scotland, with goods sold to us being linked to child labour, hazardous working conditions and pollution.
Last month an agreement was reached on an EU-wide mandatory human rights and environmental law, concluding years of negotiations. Even though the UK is no longer in the EU, the new law will apply to UK companies which operate within its borders.
SCIAF’s Partner Advocacy Officer, Line Christensen said:
“The EU-wide mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence law is a step in the right direction. We see that UK companies continue to be connected to cases of human rights abuses and environmental destruction - many of these abuses take place in the Global South. Hopefully, victims of corporate abuse will now have better access to justice.”
A YouGov polling from 2022 showed four in five people in Britain want new laws to make sure businesses do more to stamp out environmental damage and exploitative practices in their operations.
“We urgently need a new UK law to hold companies to account when they fail to prevent human rights abuses and environmental harms in their global value chains.”
A recent report from the Corporate Justice Coalition (CJC) clearly illustrates why legislation to protect human rights and the environment is needed. The report includes 15 case studies which demonstrate how UK companies, financial institutions and public bodies are connected to severe abuses – ranging from worker exploitation, modern slavery, abuse of indigenous peoples’ rights and the right to health to illegal deforestation and land-grabbing.
“Unfortunately, we see human rights abuses, worker exploitation and environmental harm in all of the countries SCIAF has partners in.
“The report from the Corporate Justice Coalition gives examples of extreme levels of lead in young children in Zambia because of mining; drinking water being contaminated in DRC due to palm oil; mining companies’ abuse of indigenous peoples’ rights in Colombia; and children as young as three years old working on tobacco farms in Malawi.”
We can all make a difference in our own small way, after all, they all add up! Shop wisely, if you truly care about human rights, invest some time in researching the companies you shop with to make sure they are behaving responsibly.
SCIAF’s partners in these countries can give many more examples of how vulnerable communities suffer in the wake of human rights abuses and environmental catastrophes. SCIAF’s partners work to ensure that those responsible for this harm are held to account, while they also help people lift themselves out of poverty, work together to protect our common home, and recover from disaster.
If you are interested to know more about it, you can read the full report on the CJC website.