Global Regulation of Corporate Conduct: Effective Pursuit of a Slave-Free Supply Chain

Global Regulation of Corporate Conduct: Effective Pursuit of a Slave-Free Supply Chain

68 Am. U. L. Rev. 1821 (2019).

* Professor of Law and Executive Director, LL.M./J.S.D. Program in Intercultural Human Rights and Founder & Director of the John J. Brunetti Human Trafficking Academy, St. Thomas University School of Law, Miami.  Member of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, (2012­–2017), now part of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, The Vatican.  I wish to thank Ms. Tessa Juste for her excellent assistance with the research for this Article.  I also thank the editorial team of the American University Law Review for its diligent and talented review of this Article.

Attractive as they seem, free trade and capital flows have also brought about major negative impacts.  Achieving socially sustainable globalization and maintaining a global economic order that respects human dignity remains a matter of concern.  Human-by-human exploitation in the form of modern slavery is deeply entrenched in many businesses, large and small.  In recent years, there has been a proliferation of efforts towards building a supply chain that would be free from questionable practices and abuses of the human rights of workers.  Efforts have been made to advocate for a human rights-based code of conduct for businesses, for a meaningful corporate social responsibility, and for ethical consumerism.  Existing law, policy, and social activism have made some strides toward committing businesses to trace their supply and to cutting ties with contractors accused of using forced labor.  Still, the law is unsettled as it regards corporate liability.  Globalization, the complexities of outsourcing, extended supply chains and their mostly unregulated nature have exacerbated trafficking in humans.  This extraordinary problem, as it persists, calls for extraordinary measures.  A business as usual approach has not solved the problem.  It is time for nation states to step up their regulatory approach regarding businesses.  Individually and as a community, nation states need to create a rule-based system for corporations forcing compliance, a system that would be workable and effective.