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08.10.2018 16:05

A broad campaign calls for legislation on human rights due diligence

More than 70 companies, trade unions and NGO's are campaigning for a Finnish law on mandatory human rights due diligence. The campaign called Ykkösketjuun is coordinated by the Finnish industry watchdog Finnwatch.

The new law, based on the UN Guiding principles on business and human rights, would oblige companies to map their human rights impacts and to prevent possible negative impacts.

Many companies in Finland already take serious note of the human rights impact of their businesses and Finnish human rights legislation is considered to be at a relatively high level.

However, these companies often work in countries where the state does not guarantee the implementation of internationally recognised human rights. The rights, for example, of children, employees and communities can be infringed on in the global supply chains.

"To set binding corporate social responsibility standards would also make Finnish work more competitive", says Jarkko Eloranta, President of SAK, the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions.

All three trade union confederations Akava, SAK and STTK support the campaign, along with many of their member unions.

A number of companies such as the cooperative S-Group, Coca Cola Finland, textile producer Finlayson, bakery, confectionery and food service company Fazer Group and fast casual restaurant chain Kotipizza Group are part of the campaign.

"France, Switzerland, the Netherlands and many other countries are already tackling business’s human rights challenges through legislation. Unfortunately, in Finland, there are currently no plans to introduce such legislation. We want Finland to be one of the forerunners in corporate social responsibility. Human rights are too important to be left to corporate discretion alone", says the campaign material.

A new Parliament will be elected in April 2019. One part of the campaign is to collect signatures from candidates stating that they are committed to advancing mandatory human rights due diligence legislation in Parliament.

Helsinki 8 Oct. 2018 Heikki Jokinen

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