[Scroll down for the translations of the press release]
Corporate abuse at the detriment of people is still widespread, but States all over the world have a unique opportunity to step up and stop this by introducing binding measures nationally, but especially at international and regional level where the major gaps lay as argued by a large international group of Bishops and Cardinals.
Several Catholic Church leaders signed the Bishops’ Statement: “Now more than ever, We need mandatory supply chain due diligence to stop corporate abuse and guarantee global solidarity”. The statement published today demands States to urgently stop ongoing corporate abuse by introducing binding legislation to regulate their activities and make them accountable by law. According to the Bishops, our economies should follow values of dignity and justice, and be respectful of the rights of the people and of the environment. Corporate abuse is widespread and the Covid-19 crisis has exacerbated the situation especially for the most vulnerable communities who were lacking social protection. Women have been once again disproportionately affected by the crisis, and at the same time “this pandemic has exposed our interdependency and has sown chaos in the global supply chains that link factories across borders, exposing our dependence on vulnerable laborers doing essential work across the globe”, the statement remarks.
Bishops call for solidarity among all members of our human family and state that without a proper legislation transnational companies will not be prevented from carrying out tax evasion, abusing human rights, infringing labor laws, destroying entire ecosystems. The Bishops argue that in the face of failed voluntarism, mandatory legislation to regulate transnational corporations is the only legislative option to protect communities and celebrate the interconnectedness of our human nature.
While some European countries already have a due diligence law or are in the process of creating one, the EU is only recently coming up to speed to harmonize the current patchwork that includes important sectorial developments at regional level to build from. EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders took a step in the right direction when announcing that EU legislation on mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence for corporations will be developed soon, as his contribution to the European Green Deal and in the context of the EU’s post Covid-19 recovery plan. Welcoming such developments, the statement also calls State leaders to advance on binding legislation at the UN level through engagement in the current process for a UN Treaty on Human Rights and business activities.
The Bishops’ statement was signed by several church leaders from countries such as India, Myanmar, Uganda, and Colombia, where communities have been affected by the irresponsible actions of transnational corporations. At the same time, many bishops from Europe (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Switzerland, The Netherlands) also added their signatures, sending a strong message that Europe should take its responsibility.
Josianne Gauthier, Secretary General of CIDSE, the international family of Catholic social Justice organizations who coordinated the statement, said: “I am inspired to see so many Church representatives speaking with one voice on the issue of corporate regulation, underpinning the work of many women and men, many of them partners of CIDSE, whose life is dedicated to the defense of human and environmental rights. We are all interconnected and we owe it to them to support their struggle in any way we can.”
The Bishops statement will remain open to collect even more signatures, especially in the run up to the next round of negotiations of a Legally Binding Instrument on Business and Human Rights at the United Nations, this year entering its sixth session.
Notes to the editor:
Bishops’ Statement: “Now more than ever, We need mandatory supply chain due diligence to stop corporate abuse and guarantee global solidarity” in EN, ES, DE, FR, IT, PT- including full list of signatories.
Countries of provenience of Bishops signatories: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, DR Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Italy, Luxembourg, Malawi, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, the Netherlands, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Uganda.
Cardinals signatories of the Statement: Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, Luxembourg; Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Myanmar
Media contact: Valentina Pavarotti, Communications Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bishops’ statement coordinator: Sylvia Obregon, Corporate Regulation and Extractives Officer, email@example.com
Picture credit: ILOJean‐Pierre-Pellissier