Certifying Human Rights in Global Supply Chains

April 67, 2017

The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice at the University of Texas School of Law will be hosting its thirteenth annual conference, “Certifying Human Rights in Global Supply Chains,” on April 6 & 7, 2017.

In today’s globalized world, economic activity is increasingly organized through complex supply chains involving transnational and national companies, subcontractors, and consumers spread across many different countries. This reality presents many challenges for the protection of human rights, especially of workers, local communities, and indigenous peoples. While violations are local, violators are often remote, insulated from both domestic and international human rights law, and the pressure points for addressing violations might be distributed across multiple jurisdictions or several steps down the supply chain. To address these challenges, the past three decades have seen a growth in forms of transnational, non-state modes of preventing, monitoring, and responding to rights violations. Included in this new approach are third-party certification schemes, which attempt to harness the power of consumers and markets to address the social and environmental conditions of production across complex globalized value chains.

This conference brings together an interdisciplinary group of practitioners and advocates working on private governance initiatives in different sectors – including agriculture, forestry, mining, and textiles – with academics addressing business and human rights, to ask whether certification schemes and other forms of multi-stakeholder governance represent a viable means of human rights promotion, enforcement, and realization. What are some of the potential opportunities and pitfalls that different models of certification, monitoring, and private governance present for human rights realization?

The conference will consist of a public forum held at Texas Law on Thursday, April 6, from 5:00-6:30pm (followed by a reception) as well as a closed, day-long workshop on Friday, April 7, for invited participants. If you would like to participate in the closed sessions on Friday, please contact Julia Dehm.

This event is part of a broader five-year project on economic inequality and human rights, and builds on a roundtable we hosted in February 2016, entitled “Certifiably Fair: Can Consumers Monitor Human Rights? that brought together activists and academics looking at certification and private governance in the agricultural, textiles, forestry and carbon offset sectors.

We hope that you will be able to join us for this engaging conversation!