L7 to the G7: the need for mandatory due diligence in a post-pandemic world. Guest Blog.

Stephen Russell, International Policy Officer for Business and Human Rights at the TUC, draws from the recently published L7 statement to the G7 to highlight the call that mandatory due diligence obligations on multinational companies are an essential aspect of “building back fairer”.

Trade unions have released their statement ahead of the G7 summit (11-13 June 2021), calling on leaders to build back fairer as the world exits the grips of the pandemic.

Worldwide access to Covid-19 vaccines is key to “building back better”, with the L7 clear that it is not just about “better” but “fairer”. This includes, echoing the words of ILO Director General Guy Ryder at our L7 summit, consideration of “…weaknesses in both our economies and our societies, and without deliberate, focused international efforts to address them, we would build back a more unequal and unsafe world of work”.

The weak state of democracy, before and after the pandemic, also dominated discussions within the L7. The global rise of the authoritarian far-right, and the erosion of the workplace democracy that would allow unions to fight both that ideology and the inequality on which it feeds, requires a wholesale re-evaluation of how interconnected the decisions are that we make about our economies, our societies and our democracies.

To that end: “The L7 encourages the G7 to revive multilateral solutions and work collectively to pave the way towards a sustainable recovery firmly based on democratic values, social justice and a New Social Contract, not only across G7 countries but across the world. It is about rebuilding economies and societies with the ambition to fight inequalities and climate change under a new model of growth and more responsible and resilient global supply chains governed by labour rights and mandated due diligence.”

And at the heart of all our calls lies the goal of universal decent work, an ambition that is key to delivering a future that is more equal, greener and fairer.

“G7 Leaders should put the fair trade and responsible business conduct (RBC) agenda back on the G7 radar, starting with this Summit, and strengthen existing international instruments that enforce labour rights and mandatory due diligence with enforceable labour and environmental standards in trade and investment treaties and agreements, and World Trade Organisation rules.

“As a foundation, they must enforce International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards on decent work, build on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and ensure 5 domestic industries that create quality jobs are protected from unfair trade competition. Trade agreements and WTO rules must also ensure protections for public services and sovereignty to allow governments to legislate in the public interest.”

Read the full L7 statement