Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 September 2018
Labour and environmental law operate in silos. This is equally true in the transnational sphere, despite the 2011 endorsement of UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Labour rights as human rights appear easier to grasp than environmental human rights, and the UNGPs specifically highlight the work of the ILO. Due to egregious events such as the Bangladesh Rana Plaza factory collapse, transnational governance regimes have emerged to better ensure building safety and respect for labour rights. Yet the process of production of “fast fashion” is not only a problem for workers whose health and safety are put at risk, but also for children and families who live in the vicinity of polluting factories and experience “slow death” as a result of contaminated air and water. This paper will explore how a reconceptualization of the worker as a relational being and corporeal citizen might bridge the silos.
Le droit du travail et de l’environnement fonctionnent en silos. Malgré l’approbation, en 2011, des Principes directeurs relatifs aux entreprises et aux droits de l’homme de l’Organisation des Nations Unies, il semble également que la sphère transnationale soit caractérisée par ce type de travail en silo. Les droits du travail en tant que droits de la personne semblent d’ailleurs plus faciles à saisir que les droits de la personne liés à l’environnement, et les Principes directeurs mettent surtout en exergue le travail de l’Organisation internationale du travail. En raison d’évènements flagrants tels que l’effondrement de l’usine Rana Plaza au Bangladesh, des régimes de gouvernance transnationaux ont vu le jour afin de garantir la sécurité des bâtiments et le respect des droits des travailleurs. Or, le processus de production de la « mode rapide » ne s’avère pas uniquement problématique pour les travailleurs dont la santé et la sécurité sont menacées, elles touchent également les enfants et les familles qui vivent à proximité des usines polluantes et qui, sous l’effet de l’air et l’eau contaminés, connaissent une « mort lente ». Cet article explore comment une reconceptualisation du travailleur en tant qu’être relationnel et citoyen corporel pourrait bâtir des ponts entre les silos.
I would like to thank Adelle Blackett for inviting me to contribute to this special issue, and for the opportunity to give a talk on the subject at McGill in 2017. My thanks are also due to the Centre for International Governance Innovation’s International Law Research Program, where I am a Senior Fellow, for providing financial support for me to attend the 2017 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, which informed my understanding of recent developments of importance to the final section of this article. Finally, I am grateful to the anonymous peer reviewers for their insightful suggestions.
1 Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises, John Ruggie: Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework, UNOHCHR, 17th Sess, UN Doc A/HRC/17/31, (2011), online: Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Business/A-HRC-17-31_AEV.pdf [UNGPs]
2 Report of the Independent Expert on the Issue of Human Rights Obligations Relating to the Enjoyment of a Safe, Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment, John H. Knox: Mapping Report, UNOHCHR, 25th Sess, UN Doc A/HRC/25/53, (2014), online: United Nations Mandate on Human Rights and the Environment http://srenvironment.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/A-HRC-25-53-clean-final-version-1.doc [Knox, Mapping]; Report of the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment: Framework principles on human rights and the environment, UNOHCHR, 37th Sess, UN Doc A/HRC/37/59, (2018), online: Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G18/017/42/PDF/G1801742.pdf?OpenElement [Knox, Principles]. See also the work of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, online: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Environment/ToxicWastes/Pages/SRToxicWastesIndex.aspx.
3 United Nations General Assembly, Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 21 October 2015, UN DOC A/RES/70/1.Google Scholar United Nations Sustainable Development Platform, available at: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/summit (the 2030 Agenda).Google Scholar
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6 Doorey, “Just Transitions Law,” 205, 220–222.
7 Ibid., 205. See, for example, s. 3 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, which defines “environment” as: “the components of the Earth and includes:
(a) air, land and water
(b) all layers of the atmosphere
(c) all organic and inorganic matter and living organisms; and
(d) the interacting natural systems that include components referred to in paragraph (a) to (c).”
8 But see efforts by groups to bridge this divide: Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith, “Pipeline Climate Disaster: The Keystone XL Pipeline and Labor,” online: Labor Network for Sustainability http://www.labor4sustainability.org/articles/pipeline-climate-disaster-the-keystone-xl-pipeline-and-labor/
9 “What is the Global Compact,” United Nations Global Compact: https://www.unglobalcompact.org/what-is-gc
10 “The Ten Principles” United Nations Global Compact https://www.unglobalcompact.org/what-is-gc/mission/principles. Principle 10 concerns anti-corruption.
13 Ibid. Each adhering country also commits to creating a National Contact Point charged with promoting the Guidelines and resolving disputes.
15 Ibid. paragraph 48.
16 Ibid. paragraph 60. Infra note 33.
17 International Finance Corporation (IFC), Social and Environmental Performance Standards (World Bank, 2012), online: http://www.ifc.org/wps/wcm/connect/115482804a0255db96fbffd1a5d13d27/PS_English_2012_Full-Document.pdf?MOD=AJPERES. However, the IFC Performance Standards have been critiqued for failing to fully align with business responsibilities for human rights. See Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises: “Human Rights Impact Assessments – Resolving Key Methodological Questions,” UN HRCOR, 4th Sess, UN Doc A/HRC/4/74 (5 February 2007), paras 22, 25–26.
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20 Compare IFC Performance Standard 2 (Labor and Working Conditions) with IFC Performance Standard 3 (Resource Efficiency and Pollution Prevention) and IFC Performance Standard 6 (Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources), supra note 17.
21 IFC Performance Standard 4 (Community Health, Safety, and Security), supra note 17. See also International Finance Corporation, “Environmental, Health, and Safety General Guidelines,” online: http://www.ifc.org/wps/wcm/connect/554e8d80488658e4b76af76a6515bb18/Final%2B-%2BGeneral%2BEHS%2BGuidelines.pdf?MOD=AJPERES
22 IFC Performance Standard 5 (Land Acquisition and Involuntary Resettlement), supra note 17.
23 Doorey, “Just Transitions Law,” 220.
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33 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, in Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, UN Doc. A/CONF.151/26 (Vol. I), 12 August 1992, Annex I.
34 United Nations General Assembly, The Future We Want, Rio de Janeiro, 11 September 2011, UNGA 66th Sess., UN Doc. A/RES/66/288, 3–10.
35 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, supra note 3, 5 (para 12): “We reaffirm all the principles of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, including, inter alia, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, as set out in principle 7 thereof.”
36 Rio Declaration, supra note 33.
37 See for example the Basel Convention (transboundary movements of hazardous wastes) and Rotterdam Convention (chemicals management), although the Stockholm Convention takes a slightly stricter approach for persistent organic pollutants (ban/reduction, with exceptions). See further the relationship between these three treaties, online: http://www.brsmeas.org/Decisionmaking/Overview/AboutSynergies/tabid/2614/language/en-US/Default.aspx
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48 United Nations Working group on the issue of transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, online: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/WGHRandtransnationalcorporationsandotherbusiness.aspx
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57 Knox, Mapping, supra note 2, 8 (para 27).
58 Ibid., 8 (para 29). See further paras 30–35 (duties to assess environmental impacts and make information public); paras 36–40 (duties to facilitate public participation in environmental decision-making); and paras 41–43 (duty to provide access to legal remedies) (pages 9–12).
59 Ibid., 11 (para 39), referring to the work of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.
60 Knox, Mapping, supra note 2, 12–13, paras. 79–84.
61 Ibid., 19–22.
62 Ibid., para 58. See further paras 58–61.
63 Ibid, citing United Nations General Assembly, “Corporations and human rights: a survey of the scope and patterns of alleged corporate-related human rights abuse,” 23 May 2008, Human Rights Council, Addendum to the Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, UN DOC A/HRC/8/5/Add.2, para. 67.
64 Knox, Mapping, supra note 2, para 59.
65 Knox, Principles, supra note 2, Annex.
66 Ibid., para 18.
67 Ibid., Commentary to Principle 8, para 22.
68 Ibid., Commentary to Principle 12, para 35.
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82 Ibid., 24–25.
83 Ibid., 25–26.
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87 Ibid., 33–34.
88 Ibid., 35–36.
89 Ibid., 45.
90 Ibid., 19–20, citing Walmart’s Standards for Suppliers Manual (April 2014).
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109 Ibid., 3, 28–29.
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115 Report of the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment, John Knox: children’s rights OHCHR 37th Sess UN Doc A/HRC/37/58 (2018), online: https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G18/017/29/PDF/G1801729.pdf?OpenElement
116 OHCHR, “The Rights of the Child and Hazardous Substances and Wastes,” online: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Environment/ToxicWastes/Pages/RightsoftheChildHazardousSubstancesWastes.aspx. See further Report of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes and substances, UN Doc A/HRC/33/41 (2 August 2016), online: https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G16/169/26/PDF/G1616926.pdf?OpenElement
117 SDGs, supra note 3; United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, online: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/issues/MDG/Pages/The2030Agenda.aspx
118 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, supra note 3 (Preamble). On gender, see ibid., Goal 5.
119 Ibid. (Preamble).
120 Ibid., para 9.
122 Ibid., para 10.
123 Ibid., para 67.
124 Ibid., Goal 8. See especially Goal 8.8.
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127 Ibid., Goals 1 (poverty), 2 (hunger), 3 (health), 12 (consumption and production).
128 UN Global Compact, Sustainable Development, online: https://www.unglobalcompact.org/what-is-gc/our-work/sustainable-development
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