Conflict Minerals: European Parliament Endorses New Compliance Requirements

iStock_000013609814XSmall-e1374781449214It has been nearly a month since the deadline for companies in the United States to file their second annual conflict minerals reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission. As companies and their stakeholders assess the strength of their compliance efforts and public disclosures, many are also watching developments in Europe with regard to due diligence on conflict minerals.

In late May, the European Parliament endorsed a regulation that would require companies to perform due diligence with regard to the tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold that they import into… More

G7 Leaders Issue Declaration Supporting Private Sector Implementation of Human Rights Due Diligence

Picture1At the conclusion of the G7 Summit held on June 7 and 8, the assembled leaders released a declaration endorsing the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Specifically, leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan stated that

We strongly support the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and welcome the efforts to set up substantive National Action Plans.

Notably, many governments around the world, including the United States, are in the process of developing National Action… More

New Executive Order on Federal Sustainability Promotes Responsible Government Procurement Policies

In March,globe_measuring_tape President Obama issued Executive Order 13693, “Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade.” It replaces and updates a number of Executive Orders and Memorandums, most notably replacing Executive Order 3514, “Federal Leadership In Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance,” issued by President Obama in 2009.

The new Order provides federal agencies with a series of targets and deadlines through 2025, including requiring federal agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2025.

This Order has specific relevance to corporations who are already providing or in a… More

Shareholder Proposals Regarding Corporate Respect for Human Rights

BoardroomShareholder proposals filed during this year’s proxy season reflect investors’ continued concerns about the social and environmental impacts of corporate operations. The Proxy Preview published by As You Sow, the Sustainable Investments Institute, and Proxy Impact, provides an overview of the 433 non-binding shareholder proposals that had been filed by investors for the 2015 proxy season as of mid-February.

Of the proposals reviewed in the Proxy Preview:

27 % address environmental matters, including climate change; 26% addressed corporate political activity; 15% addressed human rights, including labor rights; and 9% addressed… More

The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act: New Guidance and Increased Enforcement Efforts

Watercolor Map of CaliforniaThe State of California has recently stepped up enforcement of the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, which went into effect on January 1, 2012. The California Department of Justice has also issued new guidance on compliance with the legislation.

In April 2015, the Department of Justice sent out letters to certain retailers and manufacturers regarding compliance with the transparency legislation. The letters requested the companies to provide, within 30 days, either:

an explanation as to why the legislation does not apply to them; or a link to… More

U.N. Guiding Principles Reporting Framework Released by the Human Rights Reporting and Assurance Frameworks Initiative

HiRes (2)In late February, after 18 months of research and consultation, a new Reporting Framework has been released to help companies report on their human rights performance in a manner aligned with the expectations set forth in the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The Reporting Framework is intended to enable companies of all sizes, and in all sectors, to report on their efforts to operate consistently with the corporate responsibility to respect human rights.

The Framework was released by the Human Rights Reporting and Assurance Frameworks Initiative (“RAFI”), which… More

Frequently Asked Questions on the U.S. Government’s National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct

Global BusinessOn February 12, the U.S. Department of State released a set of “Frequently Asked Questions” (“FAQs”) with regard to the U.S. Government’s efforts to develop a National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct. The plan is expected to be released by the end of this year.

As announced in September, the U.S. Government is working on a National Action Plan “to promote and incentivize responsible business conduct, including with respect to transparency and anticorruption, consistent with the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the… More

Human Trafficking and Government Procurement: New Requirements for U.S. Federal Contractors

TraffickingOn January 29, the U.S. Government released a final rule establishing new anti-human trafficking requirements for U.S. government contractors. The rule amends the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) and seeks to strengthen the FAR’s existing prohibitions and requirements related to trafficking in persons.

The new requirements go into effect on March 2, 2015. The rule’s specific requirements are summarized below and a full client alert is available here.

The final rule is intended to implement Executive Order 13627 (“Strengthening Protections Against Trafficking in Persons in Federal Contracts”) and Title XVII of the… More

Alien Tort Case Development: Ninth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Claims Against Occidental Petroleum

Alien Tort GavelIn mid-December, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of claims filed pursuant to the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”) against Occidental Petroleum. Plaintiffs in the case argued that Occidental should be held liable for the deaths of three union leaders in Colombia who were killed by the Colombian National Army’s 18th Brigade in 2004. The court affirmed the lower court’s finding that the case raised non-justiciable political questions.

The facts, as stated in the court’s opinion, are as follows: beginning in the 1980s, Occidental’s Colombian… More

Protecting the Rights of Children Should Be Integral to Every Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy

child-labor-349989_640Consideration of the rights of children should be integral to any Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”) strategy or policy. Traditionally, companies have focused on reducing and eliminating the use of child labor in their supply chains as a means of protecting the rights of children. While important, companies should keep in mind that respecting and protecting children’s rights extends far beyond the use of child labor. A robust CSR strategy should reflect a comprehensive understanding of the many ways by which businesses may adversely impact children’s rights. Developing and implementing strategies or policies to protect the… More