Protecting our common home: The case for new UK legislation to prevent negative business impacts on human rights and the environment

MP briefing

People around the world are experiencing human rights abuses, environmental destruction and  the impacts of the climate crisis. British businesses are linked to these abuses through their supply chains, subsidiaries and investments.  

CAFOD, along with civil society groups and leading UK businesses, is calling for a new Business, Human Rights and the Environment Act to hold companies to account when they fail to prevent human rights abuses and environmental harms. This would be modelled on the world-leading civil and criminal duties to prevent tax evasion and bribery found in the Criminal Finances Act 2017 and the Bribery Act 2010.

Why is this new legislation needed?

This new legislation would help the UK to:

  • Guarantee a level playing field for all businesses operating on the UK market, with the law mandating companies to conduct human rights and environmental due diligence (i.e. to identify and manage the risks that their activities pose) across their operations, subsidiaries and value chains.
  • Provide mechanisms to hold to account companies which fail to prevent harm, including through sanctions and liability provisions.
  • Ensure that the environment and rights of the most vulnerable are respected and that victims have access to justice.
  • Retain its leadership in business and human rights, be a force for good in the world and lead the way on making COP26 pledges a reality.


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