Two-thirds of British business leaders agree

November 27, 2015

Today we are releasing new polling which shows that more than two thirds of UK business leaders (69%) agree that British companies should be accountable in the UK for any harm they cause to workers or local communities in developing countries.

This result confirms that most mainstream business leaders accept the need for sanctions for the irresponsible minority who cause serious harm through their operations in developing countries.

The polling is published in our new report Above the Law? Time to hold irresponsible companies to account. The report makes the case for using the law to prosecute irresponsible companies.

The report outlines the nature of the problem. Figures from the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre show that there have been over 300 allegations against 127 UK-linked companies in the past decade. Alleged abuses range from forced evictions, through environmental pollution and labour rights infringements to violent attacks on local people who oppose company plans.

Had similar harms taken place in the UK many of the cases could have resulted in a criminal investigation under environmental, corporate manslaughter or health and safety legislation. However when they happen overseas, they are not covered by such legislation and national legal systems are often not robust enough to bring a prosecution.

Despite this large number of allegations there has not been a single prosecution of a UK company for serious harm caused in other countries.

That’s why Traidcraft is calling for a new legal framework to hold irresponsible companies to account in the UK.

This would give companies an incentive to put in place the systems necessary to prevent harm before it happens, deterring businesses from turning a blind eye in the knowledge that they are unlikely ever to be held to account.  

Here are two things you can do to show you care: