The new coronavirus (COVID-19) affects almost every area of people’s lives and economic activity and has led to a significant disruption of world trade. Faced with this crisis, transnational textile companies fall back on exactly what their supply chains are designed for: externalizing costs, outsourcing economic risk, and shifting the responsibility for workers’ social rights to suppliers. They simply leave behind corporate social responsibility promises as well as human rights obligations. With this reaction, once again, the garment sector is a paradigmatic example of the dynamics of global supply chains.
But: human rights remain applicable in times of severe economic crises, including the right to food, to health and social protection. And they remain the benchmark government and business activity must be measured by.
The policy paper Garment supply chains in intensive care? Human rights due diligence in times of (economic) crises explores how proper human rights due diligence by textile companies and retailers should have looked like in the years preceding the current COVID-19 crisis to ensure a protection of workers and how companies should act now in terms of human rights due diligence to protect workers in the current situation.