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Slavery in the supply : should Australia pass legislation that compels corporations to disclose the actions they have taken to eradicate the presence of Modern Slavery in their Supply Chains?

Narelle, Sherwill (2016). Slavery in the supply : should Australia pass legislation that compels corporations to disclose the actions they have taken to eradicate the presence of Modern Slavery in their Supply Chains?. : .

Document type: Research Report
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Author Narelle, Sherwill
Title of Report Slavery in the supply : should Australia pass legislation that compels corporations to disclose the actions they have taken to eradicate the presence of Modern Slavery in their Supply Chains?
Publication Date 2016-09
Total Pages 48
Field of Research LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES
Abstract Globalisation has created a complex network of markets, in which multi-national corporations are able to position parts of their supply chain in poorly regulated developing nations while yielding high profits in more restrictive legal regimes at home. These corporations are often at the root of social issues such as global warming, corruption and human rights abuses; yet unlike nation states, there is no international legal framework to temper their power or sanction transgressions. Domestic legislation is inadequate when it does not capture the activities of businesses outside their domicile country - and this is even more apparent when visibility of those activities is lost along complex international supply chains. Reliance is placed on business to self-regulate by implementing internal ‘soft law’ policies that uphold social responsibility norms, and many have seen the value in doing so – particularly due to increased consumer interest in the providence of goods and social media’s ability to define a company’s reputation. Despite the efforts that have been made, human trafficking, forced labour and slavery (interchangeably referred to here as modern slavery) continue to plague the supply chains through which multi-national corporations are deriving enormous profits.

This paper will argue that consistent with similar jurisdictions, it is now necessary to implement legislation that bridges the regulatory gap and compels corporations to disclose the actions they are taking to eradicate modern slavery from their supply chains. Legislation of this kind will rightly impose responsibility for investigating supply chains upon the multinational corporations themselves, and provide transparency of those investigative actions (or lack thereof) for consumers, investors and government alike. This paper does not propose that companies be made to incriminate themselves - rather that they disclose the actions taken to eradicate modern slavery from their supply chain – effectively prompting investigation of the supply chain to actually occur (where previously no prompt existed).

The matter will be approached in four parts. Part one will review the extent of the modern slavery crisis, and particularly how Australian corporations and consumers contribute to the issue through procurement of goods produced in situations of human trafficking, forced labour and slavery. The definitions of, and distinctions between these terms will be explored in part two; where the existing legal framework will be explained and an example of modern slavery provided. This section will also point out how international and domestic law applies (or does not apply) to corporations, and survey the regulatory gap that currently exists. A comparative analysis will be conducted in part three, critically examining the approaches of various jurisdictions that have implemented supply chain transparency measures. Finally, suggestions for reform will be made and parallels drawn to the reviewed jurisdictions to determine the appropriateness of each model for the Australian context. Ultimately, a conclusion will be reached that Australia should pass a progressive model of legislation that compels corporations to disclose the actions they have taken to eliminate modern slavery from their supply chains.
Additional Notes Research paper LWC304


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