Efforts by government to force companies to monitor all levels of their supply chains are impractical and do not account for social and political injustices.
Business has responded by proactively establishing privatized labor inspection systems to monitor supply chains to ensure compliance with codes of conduct pass but past the first tier (direct suppliers), efforts are impractical.
In Uzbekistan, it is reported that during harvest cotton is picked by minors, a government supported action that forcibly withdraws children from school to work the fields. Despite efforts by business to boycott the purchase of Uzbek cotton on the world market, it remains a purchased commodity by unreputable suppliers. Once purchased the tainted cotton makes its way into the supply chain of many final products.
USCIB Speaks Out
At the United Nations
USCIB worked with its members to collaborate with John Ruggie, UN special representative to ensure that U.S business needs be represented within the adopted “UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights resulting in principles being accepted that recognize governments need to work in conjunction with business to find ways in which to address the complicated challenges facing multinational companies, not to put the burden solely on business community.
At the OECD
When revisions to the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises threatened to change the nature of the guidelines by holding companies accountable for all injustices found within their supply chains, USCIB, working in conjunction with BIAC, successfully advocated for consistency with the UN Principles which reinforce the standard that suppliers are responsible for their own impacts and the burden cannot be transferred.
At the ILO and IOE
USCIB Business efforts to address human rights issues including forced labor, child labor and human trafficking in labor markets provide short term relief when weak governments fail to enforce human rights laws already on the books. In support of the business community, USCIB through the IOE and ILO have supported cases brought against the Uzbek government with regards to the forced child labor cases occurring annually during harvest season. The ILO commissioned a group to observe and report on the injustices within the Uzbek labor system.