"Facebook has appropriately banned the IRA from its platforms," said Michael H. Posner, director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights. "We applaud Facebook for recognizing that Russian disinformation online is a serious problem and for developing a specific response to this sustained Russian effort to inject political propaganda into American society, as well into Russian and European societies.Read More
The NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights received a letter from Ambassador James F. Moriarty, the Executive Director of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, in response to our commentary on the future of factory safety in Bangladesh.
Please see Ambassador Moriarty's letter here: pdf.
Our response to the letter is in full below and here: pdf.
Ambassador James F. Moriarty (ret.)
Executive Director, Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety
December 4, 2017
Dear Ambassador Moriarty
Thank you for your November 28 letter. We have appreciated our continued open dialogue with the Alliance, and we share your objective of improving workplace safety in Bangladesh. We would like to post your letter on our website. If we do so, we would post this response, as well.
You address three main issues in your letter. The first relates to the Alliance’s transition plans and your timeline for phasing out your efforts in Bangladesh. As you say, we cite press reports in our November 9 commentary that say the Alliance will phase out its operations next spring or summer. From your response it sounds as if the Alliance will not conclude its operations until safety concerns in all of the factories in your program have been “fully remedied.” Your clarification on the anticipated timing of “full remediation” would be welcome.
The second issue relates to what you will consider “full remediation.” According to the Alliance's November progress report, 247 out of 658 active Alliance factories have now completed Corrective Action Plans. This is a commendable achievement in a very challenging environment. However it is our understanding that a number of the remaining factories have significant structural problems that will be expensive to correct. How do you intend to complete the Corrective Action Plans for these factories, and what will you do if suppliers of Alliance brands are either unable or unwilling to make these needed structural repairs?
Finally, you address the issue of subcontracting factories. This has been a subject of particular concern to us since 2013. As you know, in 2015, the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights produced a detailed report in which we documented the existence of more than 7,100 factories and facilities producing for the export market. Our estimate was confirmed in a subsequent study published by BRAC in 2016. This is not a minor detail. The business model of Alliance companies is dependent on these subcontracting factories to meet their deadlines, especially when they place high-volume orders in busy seasons. Many of these subcontracting factories have very serious safety issues. We continue to believe that it is unrealistic to assume that the Government of Bangladesh or the owners of these subcontracting factories will be able to address these safety issues on their own. Do you see any systemic changes in Bangladesh that leads you to believe that this will change in the foreseeable future? Are there steps the Alliance is considering to help address this set of challenges? Even your acknowledgment of the scope and importance of these issues would help encourage the development of a more comprehensive approach to factory safety.
We are eager to discuss these issues further with you and your colleagues, including members of the Alliance Board. Please let us know when you might be available to speak by phone or to meet. We look forward to hearing from you.
NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights
The Center reports on the first meeting of more than 20 business schools in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss current efforts to promote human rights in business schools and explore future opportunities, and encourages future membership and collaboration.Read More
As the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Export Association, C&A Foundation and the Center for Entrepreneurship Development at BRAC University undertake the second phase of its mapping project, the Center offers its support and insights.Read More
A new study from the Center finds that construction companies operating in the Arabian Gulf are able to recruit millions of low- wage migrant workers without incurring the costs of the recruitment process. Instead, in this highly irregular system, most workers themselves are paying for their own recruitment – and much more – before they depart their home countries.Read More
A new paper released by the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights finds that current ratings and reporting of these metrics have yet capture companies’ performance on labor and other human rights issues.Read More
The NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights responds to Human Rights Reporting and Assurance Frameworks Initiative's request for comments on the UNGP Reporting Framework – Guidance Part II: Assurance of human rights performance and reporting, encouraging more rigorous standards applicable to each sector.Read More
A blast at a Bangladeshi food packaging factory on Saturday killed at least 31 people and injured many more. Sarah Labowitz, co-director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, highlights urgent need for factory reforms.Read More
The NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights welcomes the proposal by DoD, GSA, and NASA to amend the United States Federal Acquisition Regulation’s (FAR) Subpart 22.17, entitled Combating Trafficking in Persons, and the associated clause 52.222-50, in order to further clarify the FAR’s definition of “recruitment fees.” We also appreciate the opportunity provided to the public by the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council and the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council to submit early input in this pursuit.Read More
The hostage attack heightens security concerns while presenting a serious threat to the economy. The fashion industry has been a boon to Bangladesh’s economic growth, but this kind of attack will surely keep buyers away in the months leading up to the holiday shopping season. Five million workers depend on jobs in the readymade garment sector. This attack has the potential to jeopardize Bangladesh’s developing economy and the prosperity of its people, which only exacerbates an economic environment in which homegrown extremism can take root.”Read More
In a global economy, multinational companies often operate in jurisdictions where governments are either unable or unwilling to uphold even the basic human rights of their citizens. As part of its work to educate the world’s future business leaders, the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights today released the first comprehensive, interdisciplinary textbook on the human rights challenges facing businesses – and how to approach solutions.Read More
As it finalizes its own National Action Plan, Michael Posner and Sarah Labowitz encourage the President to include meaningful changes to US policies and practices that set a new standard for government action to advance efforts by businesses to respect human rights.Read More
Sarah Labowitz and Dorothée Baumann-Pauly welcome ongoing interest in the Center's research on the apparel supply chain in Bangladesh and invite other scholars to help develop a research agenda that increases transparency across the apparel supply chain, in Bangladesh and other apparel exporting countries. They focus on the need for creative thinking about the solutions that will be required to meet the challenges of a more complex and distributed supply chain.Read More
"Undoubtedly, the facts we have presented over the last two years are uncomfortable. They reveal that existing solutions to address poor working conditions in the apparel supply chain do not hold up, especially for workers beyond the first tier of direct suppliers. You correctly identify our conclusion that the comprehensive evidence we have gathered over more than two years points to the need for 'a fundamental rethinking of existing efforts, and reallocation of resources to address the massive number of workers that…are not covered by any existing safety program.'"Read More
“The fire at Matrix Sweater is a stark reminder that factory safety issues haven’t been solved in Bangladesh, even in those factories that directly supply foreign fashion brands. This fire is also a reminder that paying to fix factories is as important as inspecting them. It is not enough to identify deficiencies. Factory owners and brands are locked in a stalemate over the costs of remediation that should be urgently resolved."Read More
After significant consideration, we have decided to withdraw our membership from the GNI. The board’s vote on the terms of an agreement to admit the Industry Dialogue companies in March 2017 and today's announcement that seven of the ID companies have accepted does not set GNI on a strong course for the future, at a moment when addressing issues of human rights in the technology sector is more pressing than ever.Read More
Sarah Labowitz and Michael Posner advocate for the continuation of of the Reporting Requirements for Responsible Investment in Burma, by asserting the requirements are necessary for the proper functioning of the State Department and other federal agencies in their advocacy for a fair, rules-based global economic order.Read More
Sarah Labowitz comments on TPP: "To fully realize the benefits of free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the United States and other high-income countries must enforce high standards for labor rights."Read More