For many years now, the Bangladesh Accord on Fire & Building Safety, created in the wake of the great tragedy of the Rana Plaza Factory Building collapse, was one of the great innovations of private sector governance across transnational production chains. For some of us, the Accord served as a great marker of the advance of transnational legal orders beyond the state and aligned with production chains n ways tat offered the possibilities of better management of economic activity compatible with human rights, sustainability, and markets based norms (discussed here).
There is now a risk that this great experiment may be coming to an end. Led byPeter Muchlinski (Emeritus Professor of International Commercial Law, School of Law SOAS, University of London) and Robert McCorquodale (Professor of International Law and Human Rights, School of Law, University of Nottingham), a group of academics an practitioners have written a letter urging the members of the Accord to continue the institution and its work. The letter may be accessed at the website of the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (HERE) and also follows below. Please add your support of you are of a mind.
Open Statement Concerning the Need to Renew the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety
We are legal practitioners and academics, and experts on business and human rights and corporate social responsibility, concerned about the strong risk that the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (The Bangladesh Accord) is to expire without renewal or replacement on 31 May 2021. Prompted by the Rana Plaza disaster of 2013, involving the collapse of a garment factory that led to more than 1100 deaths and more than 2000 injuries, the Bangladesh Accord has proved to be an innovative and successful development in holding multinational garment retailers and brands accountable for the working conditions in garment suppliers working out of factories in Bangladesh.
On signing the Bangladesh Accord, brands and retailers accepted legally binding obligations to comply with the Accord’s provisions, including requiring their suppliers to participate in an inspection and remediation programme, and to ensure that remediation is financially feasible. Suppliers are subject to independent inspection by the Bangladesh Accord Chief Safety Inspector. Failure to comply with any notices and warnings issued by the Inspector may ultimately lead to the supplier being made ineligible to produce for Bangladesh Accord brands. Bangladesh Accord brands must also guarantee the financial feasibility of factories to complete remediation.
Since it began, the Bangladesh Accord has created trust among workers, has helped prevent accidents and protected workers dismissed unfairly for raising safety concerns. Global union federations, who are also Accord signatories, are able to bring charges against brands and retailers that fail to fulfil commitments under the Bangladesh Accord, which has led to two cases being brought to the Permanent Court of Arbitration and resulted in effective settlements to upgrade factory remediation.
The Bangladesh Accord is an excellent example of how businesses can help operationalise the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) through the use of remediation measures and by introducing a non-judicial grievance mechanism. It also contributes to the further awareness of human rights risks in supplier factories, in line with recent trends towards the adoption of mandatory corporate human rights due diligence laws applicable to multinational firms’ global production and supply chains. It would be a very negative step for the participating businesses, many of which have developed human rights policies based on the UNGPs, to let this historic instrument fall by the wayside. They must act now to adopt a successor agreement that replicates, and improves upon, the Bangladesh Accord model.
Peter Muchlinski, Emeritus Professor of International Commercial Law, School of Law,
SOAS, University of London.
Robert McCorquodale, Professor of International Law and Human Rights, School of Law, University of Nottingham.
Dr Michelle Staggs Kelsall, Lecturer in Law, School of Law and Centre for Human Rights Law, SOAS, University of London.
Professor Emilia Onyema, Professor of International Commercial Law, School of Law, SOAS, University of London.
Professor Lynn Welchman, Professor of Law in the Middle East and North Africa, School of Law, SOAS, University of London.
Dr. Lutz Oette, Reader in International Law, School of Law, and Director, Centre for Human Rights Law, SOAS, University of London.
Ian Edge, Lecturer in Law, School of Law, SOAS, University of London.
Mayur Suresh, Senior Lecturer, School of Law SOAS, University of London.
Dr Dawood Adesola Hamzah, School of Law SOAS, University of London.
Professor Bill Bowring Professor of Law, School of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London, Barrister.
Michael A. Santoro, Professor, Department of Management and Entrepreneurship, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University, Co-Editor-in-Chief, Business and Human Rights Journal.
Beata Faracik, President of the Board, Polish Institute for Human Rights and Business.
Larry Catá Backer W. Richard and Mary Eshelman Faculty Scholar Professor of Law and International Affairs Pennsylvania State University.
Joanne Bauer Adjunct Professor, School of International and Public Affairs Senior Researcher, Business and Human Rights, Institute for the Study of Human Rights Columbia University.
Janet Dine, Professor of International Economic Development Law, The School of Law, Queen Mary, University of London.
Dr Yonit Manor-Percival, Senior Teaching Fellow, The School of Law, SOAS, University of London, Solicitor.
Beth Stephens, Distinguished Professor, Rutgers Law School.
Dr Nadia Bernaz, Associate Professor of Law, Wageningen University, the Netherlands.
Jamie O'Connell, Lecturer in Residence, Stanford Law School.
Dr. Hadia Awan, Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Central Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan.
Dr. Catherine Jenkins, Lecturer in Law, School of Law, SOAS University of London, Solicitor.
Prof Dr Paul Torremans, Professor of Intellectual Property Law, University of Nottingham.
Prof. Martijn Scheltema, Erasmus University, Rotterdam.
Anil Yilmaz Vastardis, Senior Lecturer, School of Law and Human Rights Centre, University of Essex.
Anthony Ewing, Lecturer, Columbia Law School, Columbia University, New York.
Florian Wettstein, Professor School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Institute for Business Ethics, University of St.Gallen, Switzerland.
Dr Daria Davitti, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Lund University, Sweden.
Sally Shamieh, Research Project Manager, ESA Business School, Beirut, Lebanon.
Dr Klara Polackova Van der Ploeg, Assistant Professor, School of Law, University of Nottingham.
Dr Orsolya Toth, Assistant Professor in Commercial Law, School of Law, University of Nottingham.
Dr Thamil Venthan Ananthavinayagan, Teaching Associate in International Human Rights Law, School of Law, University of Nottingham.
Dr Rebecca Prentice, Reader in Anthropology and International Development, School of Global Studies, University of Sussex.
Kim Voss, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley.
Brishen Rogers, Associate Professor, Temple University Beasley School of Law.
Daniel Kinderman, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science and International Relations University of Delaware.
Garrett D. Brown, MPH, CIH, Lecturer, UC Berkeley, School of Public Health.
Jasmine Kerrissey, Associate Professor of Sociology and Labor Studies, University of Massachusetts – Amherst.
Professor Genevieve LeBaron, Department of Politics & International Relations, University of Sheffield.
Dr. Nikolaus Hammer, Associate Professor in Work and Employment, University of Leicester.
Doug Miller, Emeritus Professor in Worker Rights in Fashion, University of Northumbria.
Miriam Saage-Maaß, lawyer and vice legal director at European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights, Berlin.
Prof. Dr. Eva Kocher, C*LLaS - Center for Interdisciplinary Labour Law Studies, Europa-Universität Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder), Germany.
Markus Krajewski, Professor of Public and International Law, School of Law, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg.
Prof. Dr. Reingard Zimmer, Professor in Labour Law, Berlin School of Economics and Law.