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The Bangladesh Sustainability Compact: An Effective Exercise of Global Experimentalist EU Governance?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 August 2017

Katrina PEAKE
Affiliation:
University of Nottingham

Abstract

The calamitous Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013 focused international attention on labour rights’ violations and factory safety in Bangladesh’s dominant ready-made garment industry which is almost wholly dependent on exports to the EU. In response, the EU and the ILO launched the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact, with the core objective of promoting continuous improvement in labour rights and factory safety in the industry. The uniqueness of the Compact stems from its nature as a form of experimentalist governance involving both governmental and non-governmental actors. Being primarily an EU-led initiative based on balancing trade, sustainable development and human rights’ objectives, it is underpinned by the possible option, if the Compact fails, of withdrawing trade preferences. This article will examine the rationale for the Compact, its main features, and its effectiveness as a form of ‘global experimentalist governance’.

Type
Articles
Copyright
© Centre for European Legal Studies, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge 

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Footnotes

*

This article further develops research by the authors in a case study published for the EU FP7 project FRAME (Fostering Human Rights among European policies), see Ark et al note 2 below for full reference.

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68 European Commission, ‘A Decent Life for All: Ending Poverty and Giving the World a Sustainable Future’, COM(2013) 92 final, p 3.

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70 World Bank, ‘Bangladesh Overview’ (2015) http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/bangladesh/overview; FRAME Deliverable 9.4, Ark et al note 2 above, pp 60–67; UN, ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ (2015) http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/sustainable-development-goals.html.

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73 European Commission, ‘EU Development Policy in Support of Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development: Increasing the Impact of EU Development Policy’, COM(2010) 629 final, p 3.

74 Cooperation Agreement between the European Community and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on partnership and development [2001] OJ L118/48.

75 Ibid, Art 1.

76 See note 73 above, p 3.

77 European External Action Service and Commission, ‘Development Cooperation Instrument Multi-Annual Indicative Programme 2014-2020’ (30 March 2014) http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/sites/devco/files/mip-bangladesh-2014-2020_en.pdf.

78 Ibid, point 1.2.

79 Yap, J, ‘One Step Forward: The European Union Generalised System of Preferences and Labour Rights in the Garment Industry in Bangladesh’ in J Wouters et al (eds), Global Governance through Trade: EU Policies and Approaches (Edward Elgar, 2015), pp 214244 Google Scholar.

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83 European Commission, ‘Bangladesh Sustainability Compact: Technical Status Report’ (July 2016), p 7 http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2016/august/tradoc_154841.pdf.

84 For fuller analysis of Bangladesh–EU trade relations and the GSP, see FRAME Deliverable 9.4, Ark et al note 2 above, pp 53–60; GSP Regulation, rec 16.

85 The EU received 47% of Bangladesh’s total exports in 2015. The next largest export market was the US with 14%: Commission, ‘European Union, Trade in goods with Bangladesh’ (21 June 2016), p 8 http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2006/september/tradoc_113349.pdf.

86 European Commission, ‘Report on the Generalised Scheme of Preferences covering the period 2014–2015’, COM(2016) 29 final, p 8. These exports were valued at €11,774,829,000.

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97 ActionAid, ‘Diversify and Conquer: Transforming Bangladesh Into an Industrialised Country’ (December 2015), p 4 https://www.actionaid.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/diversify-and-conquer-transforming-bangladesh-into-an-industrialised-country.pdf. Bangladesh has a minimum wage of €68 per month ahead of Sri Lanka at €66 per month, ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, ‘Global Wage Report 2014/15: Asia and the Pacific Supplement’, (December 2014), p 3 http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---asia/---ro-bangkok/---sro-bangkok/documents/publication/wcms_325219.pdf.

98 RD Mariani and F Valenti, ‘Working Conditions in the Bangladeshi Garment Sector: Social Dialogue and Compliance’ (Delft University of Technology and Fair Wear Foundation 2013) http://www3.fairwear.org/ul/cms/fck-uploaded/documents/countrystudies/bangladesh/WorkingconditionsintheBangladeshigarmentsectorSocialdialogueandcompliance.pdf.

99 Ibid.

100 ILO, ‘Report of the High–Level Tripartite Mission to Bangladesh’ (17–20 April 2016), p 5 http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_norm/---relconf/documents/meetingdocument/wcms_488339.pdf.

101 Human Rights Watch, ‘Bangladesh: Protect Garment Workers’ Rights’ (6 February 2016) https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/02/06/bangladesh-protect-garment-workers-rights.

102 See note 5 above, pp 33–36. European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, ‘Occupational Safety and Health in the Textiles Sector’ (E-fact 30, 2 April 2008) https://osha.europa.eu/en/publications/e-facts/efact30/view; Bowden, B, ‘Commentary – Bangladesh Clothing Factory Fires: The Way Forward’ (2014) 1(2) South Asian Journal of Human Resources Management 283 CrossRefGoogle Scholar, p 285.

103 E D’Ambrogio, ‘Workers’ conditions in the textile and clothing sector: just an Asian affair? Issues at stake after the Rana Plaza tragedy’, Briefing, European Parliamentary Research Service (August 2014)Google Scholar.

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106 FRAME Deliverable 9.4, see Ark et al note 2 above, pp 45–53.

107 Ibid, p 8.

108 ILO, ‘Improving working conditions in the ready made garment industry: Progress and achievements’ (September 2016) http://www.ilo.org/dhaka/Whatwedo/Projects/WCMS_240343/lang--en/index.htm.

109 ILO, ‘National Tripartite Plan of Action on Fire Safety and Structural Integrity in the Ready-Made Garment Sector in Bangladesh’ (25 July 2013) http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---asia/---ro-bangkok/---ilo-dhaka/documents/genericdocument/wcms_221543.pdf; see FRAME Deliverable 9.4, Ark et al note 2 above, pp 68–70.

110 Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh http://bangladeshaccord.org/; Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, http://www.bangladeshworkersafety.org/who-we-are/about-the-alliance; see, FRAME Deliverable 9.4, Ark et al note 2 above, pp 71–75.

111 See note 108 above; FRAME Deliverable 9.4, Ark et al note 2 above, pp 75–76.

112 Compact, p 3; see, FRAME Deliverable 9.4, Ark et al note 2 above, pp 81–91.

113 ILO, ‘Strengthening Workplace Safety and Labour Rights in the Bangladesh Ready-Made Garment Sector’ (September 2016), p 6 http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---asia/---ro-bangkok/---ilo-dhaka/documents/publication/wcms_474048.pdf.

114 Compact, p 3. It also covers the knitwear industry.

115 European Commission, ‘Joint Statement by EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr. Dipu Moni following recent disasters in the Bangladeshi garment industry’ (Press Release, 28 May 2013) http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-469_en.htm.

116 See note 83 above, p 2.

117 The Governments of the EU Member States were represented by the Commission. See note 113 above, p 6.

118 Compact, p 2.

119 FRAME Deliverable 9.4, see Ark et al note 2 above, pp 83–90.

120 See note 83 above.

121 ITUC, UNI Global Union and IndustriaALL, ‘An Evaluation of the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact: March 2015 Update’ (July 2014), p 2 http://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/ituc-ia-uni_evaulation_of_the_bangladesh_sustainability_compact.pdf.

122 See note 83 above, p 4.

123 ITUC, UNI Global Union and IndustriALL, ‘An Evaluation of the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact’ (January 2016), p 1 http://admin.industriall-union.org/sites/default/files/uploads/documents/Bangladesh/ituc-ia-uni_evaulation_of_the_bangladesh_sustainability_compact_january_2016_final.pdf.

124 ITUC, UNI Global Union and IndustriALL, ‘An Evaluation of the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact’ (March 2015) 1.d http://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/ituc-ia-uni_evaulation_of_the_bangladesh_sustainability_compact_march_final.pdf. See note 100 above, p 1.

125 See note 83 above, p 2.

126 Ibid, p 24.

127 See note 108 above.

128 See note 83 above, p 22.

129 See note 113 above, p 10.

130 See note 123 above, p 13.

131 Compact, p 7.

132 See note 83 above, p 30.

133 See Zeitlin, note 21 above; note 13 above, p 478.

134 See note 13 above, p 478.

135 Office of the US Trade Representative, ‘GSP review of Bangladesh recognizes progress, urges that more be done on worker safety and rights’ (January 2015) https://ustr.gov/about-us/policy-offices/press-office/press-releases/2015/january/gsp-review-bangladesh-recognizes.

136 See note 115 above.

137 FRAME Deliverable 9.4, see Ark et al note 2 above, p 80.

138 See note 13 above, p 479.

139 Ibid.

140 See Zeitlin, note 21 above, p 11.

141 See note 83 above, p 5.

142 Compact, p 1.

143 Ibid.

144 Ibid.

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146 Ibid, pp 27–29.

147 See note 13 above, p 478.

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149 European Commission, ‘The European Union’s Role in Promoting Human Rights and Democratisation in Third Countries’, COM(2001) 252 final, p 9.

150 Compact, p 2.

151 Ibid.

152 FRAME Deliverable 9.4, see Ark et al note 2 above, p 80; C Malmström, ‘Remembering Rana Plaza: What Next?’ (European Commission, Speech, 22 April 2015) http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2015/april/tradoc_153350.pdf.

153 Ibid.

154 See note 13 above, p 478.

155 See FRAME Deliverable 9.4, Ark et al note 2 above, p 9.

156 European Commission, ‘The European Union and the External Dimension of Human Rights Policy: From Rome to Maastricht and Beyond’, COM(95) 567 final, para 108.

157 See note 145 above, p 36.

158 See note 123 above, p 6.

159 Ibid, pp 7–9.

160 M Raisul et al, ‘Safety and Labour Conditions: The Accord and the National Tripartite Plan of Action for the Garment Industry of Bangladesh’ (ILO, Global Labour University, 2015) http://www.global-labour-university.org/fileadmin/GLU_Working_Papers/GLU_WP_No.38.pdf; FRAME Deliverable 9.4, see Ark et al note 2 above, pp 49–53.

161 Postnikov, E and Bastiaens, I, ‘Does Dialogue Work? The Effectiveness of Labor Standards in EU Preferential Trade Agreements’ (2014) 21(6) Journal of European Public Policy 923, pp 927928 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

162 See note 149 above, p 8.

163 See Van Den Putte and Orbie, note 59 above, p 271.

164 Ibid; see FRAME Deliverable 9.4, Ark et al note 2 above, pp 38–40.

165 See FRAME Deliverable 9.4, Ark et al note 2 above, pp 67–76.

166 See note 145 above, p 27.

167 Ibid, p 32.

168 See note 13 above, p 478.

169 Compact, p 3.

170 IndustriALL et al, ‘Bangladesh Sustainability Compact @ 4: Situation Worsening, Time for Action is Now’ (May 2017) http://www.industriall-union.org/sites/default/files/uploads/documents/2017/BANGLADESH/the_failure_of_the_bangladesh_sustainability_compact_2017.pdf.

171 See note 83 above, p 2.

172 See note 123 above, pp 7–9; these initiatives are examined in detail in FRAME Deliverable 9.4, see Ark et al note 2 above, pp 67–75.

173 Clean Clothes Campaign et al, ‘Re: Bangladesh Accord: Brief Progress Report and Proposals for Enhancement’ (Memo, April 2017), p 1 https://cleanclothes.org/resources/publications/accord-update-april-2017.

174 See note 83 above, pp 30–31.

175 See note 145 above, p 35.

176 See note 13 above, p 478.

177 See note 83 above, p 7; Partners of the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact, ‘Joint Conclusions: Second Follow-up Meeting on Bangladesh Sustainability Compact’ (Dhaka, 28 January 2016) http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2016/january/tradoc_154181.pdf.

178 See note 83 above, pp 2, 4.

179 See note 83 above, p 24.

181 Ibid.

182 See note 173 above, p 5.

183 Ibid, p 6.

184 See note 83 above, p 16.

185 Ibid.

186 Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, ‘Protecting and Empowering Bangladesh’s Garment Workers’ (2nd Annual Report, September 2015) p 2 http://www.bangladeshworkersafety.org/files/Alliance%20Second%20Annual%20Report,%20Sept,%202015.pdf

187 Ibid.

188 ILO, ‘Improving Working Conditions in the Ready Made Garment Industry: Progress and Achievements’ (Dhaka, September 2016) http://www.ilo.org/dhaka/Whatwedo/Projects/WCMS_240343/lang--en/index.htm; FRAME Deliverable 9.4, Ark et al note 2 above, p 70.

189 Ibid.

190 See ILO, note 113 above.

191 See note 188 above.

192 Búrca, G De et al, ‘New Modes of Pluralist Global Governance’ (2013) 45(3) New York University Journal of International Law and Politics 723, p 740 Google Scholar.

193 See note 15 above, p 6.

194 Ibid.

195 See note 13 above, p 483.

196 See note 3 above, p 11.

197 See note 123 above, p 2.

198 See Malmström, note 152 above, p 4.

199 See note 170 above.

200 ILO, ‘Conference Committee on the Application of Standards’ (Geneva 2016, 105th Session of the International Labour conference) part 1/32, para 143.

201 Ibid, para 144.

202 See note 170 above.

203 ITUC et al, ‘Joint Union Letter to EU re Bangladesh’ http://www.ituc-csi.org/joint-union-letter-to-eu-re.

204 Uni Global Union et al, ‘EU-Based Affiliated Demand a GSP Investigation for Bangladesh’ (20 February 2017) http://www.uni-europa.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/20170220_-_joint_letter_to_affliates_on_bangladesh.pdf.

205 IH Ovi, ‘EU Warns Bangladesh of GSP Suspension over Labour Rights’ (Dhaka Tribune, 24 March 2017) http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2017/03/24/eu-warns-bangladesh-gsp-suspension-labour-rights.

206 Tsogas, G, ‘Labour Standards in the Generalized Systems of Preferences of the European Union and the United States’ (2000) 6(3) European Journal of Industrial Relations 349, p 362 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

207 See note 61 above, pp 42–43.

208 See note 83 above, pp 4–5.

209 FRAME Deliverable 9.4, see Ark et al note 2 above, p 80.

210 See note 62 above, p 14.

211 See note 13 above, p 480.

212 Ibid.

213 Trubek, DM et al, “Soft Law’, ‘Hard Law’ and EU Integration’ in G de Búrca and J Scott (eds), Law and New Governance in the EU and the US (Hart Publishing, 2006), p 78 Google Scholar.

214 FRAME Deliverable 9.4, see Ark et al note 2 above, p 81.

215 Manners, I, ‘The Social Dimension of EU Trade Policies: Reflections from a Normative Power Perspective’ (2009) 14 European Foreign Affairs Review 785, p 803 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

216 See note 213 above, p 78.

217 See note 83 above, p 3; ‘Joint Conclusions, note 177 above.

218 See note 158 above, p 2.

219 See FRAME Deliverable 9.4, Ark et al note 2 above, pp 35–41.

220 FRAME Deliverable 9.4, see Ark et al note 2 above, pp 38–40.

221 See note 83 above, p 4.

222 FRAME Deliverable 9.4, see Ark et al note 2 above, p 81.

223 See note 61 above, pp 42–43.

224 See note 33 above, p 14.

225 Ewing-Chow, M, ‘First Do No Harm: Myanmar Trade Sanctions and Human Rights’ (2007) 5(2) Northwestern Journal of International Human Rights 153, pp 179180 Google Scholar.