News

Liber Amicorum Roel Nieuwenkamp (OECD)
A liber amicorum by the academic friends of the chair of the OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct Roel Nieuwenkamp has been presented to him on the occasion of his stepping down at the OECD annual Global Forum on Responsible Business Conduct in Paris on June 20. The Dutch mission has kindly hosted this reception at the Forum. The book was coordinated by Herman Mulder and Martijn Scheltema, who also wrote the synthesis chapter. The book includes many perspectives on the OECD Guidelines for Multinational enterprises and suggestions for strengthening them and the NCP function as well as for additional topics to be addressed in these guidelines. The book can be accessed through: mneguidelines.oecd.org/oecd-guidelines-for-mnes-a-glass-half-full.htm

Responsible supply chains for luxury brands
Martijn Scheltema has spoken at the International Bar Association conference on luxury brands in Milan on June 21. Many luxury brands like Ferrari, Pininfarina, Gucci and others were represented. Martijn served at a panel on responsible supply chains with, amongst others, the head of responsible business at Gucci. He has elaborated on the need to engage human rights specialists in risk assessments in supply chains, the need to improve and strengthen contractual mechanisms, the need for better grievance mechanisms at the company and local level (and the need to use them as a feedback loop) as well as the need to collaborate on this topic with industry peers. 

Strategic litigation on child labour
Martijn Scheltema has been invited by the Commission of the European Union to a roundtable on strategic litigation on child labour in Brussels on April 27. The European commission had gathered some 30 international experts to discuss this topic. Amongst others litigation in the US has been discussed as well as the current situation in cocoa production in Ivory Coast (including endemic child slavery). Although several companies and multi-stakeholder initiatives like Fair Trade try to change the situation they appeared to be unsuccessful so far. It has been discussed whether strategic litigation may assist in bringing about change. Martijn has elaborated on the Dutch legislative proposal on child labour and why strategic litigation may help to raise awareness especially with companies lagging behind. However, it is unlikely to bring about fundamental change to the complex situation on the ground. Effective multi-stakeholder collaboration with new approaches (amongst others contractual measures and building databases on supply chains) is needed to bring about such change.

UK Modern Slavery Act
Martijn Scheltema has attended a seminar on the Modern Slavery Act organized by Doughty Street Chambers in London on April 30. One of the speakers was the British Commissioner on Modern Slavery who has provided some interesting insights on the law and the ways UK companies are dealing with it. Several of the companies present also reflected on the law and their practices to deal with it.

Smart workshop on responsible business conduct
Martijn Scheltema together with Liesbeth Enneking (Erasmus University) and Jeroen Veldman (Cass University) organized a two day workshop under the European Union funded SMART-project at Erasmus University Rotterdam on March 27 and 28 2018. During this workshop different perspectives have been provided on Dutch policies on responsible business conduct. Amongst other topics, OECD National Contact Points, competition law, effectiveness of multi-stakeholder initiatives, corporate governance, the Dutch International Responsible Business Agreements, liability, other Dutch policy initiatives, international investment law and public procurement have been discussed. The workshop was opened by Jan-Peter Balkenende and chaired by Liesbeth Enneking on the first day and Martijn Scheltema on the second. Martijn Scheltema has presented on effectivness of multi-stakeholder initiatives on the first day. Elisa Palm has contributed on public procurement on the second day.

Annual ISA Conference San Francisco
Martijn Scheltema has co-organised and presented at a panel on the distribution of power through (standard-setting) multi-stakeholder initiatives advancing human rights, labour conditions and environmental compliance at the annual ISA (International Studies Association) conference in San Francisco on April 4 2018. The conference was well attended by approximately 6.000 participants. His presentation adressed ways of enforcement of standards by multi-stakeholder initiatives and the effectiveness of these various means (through membership schemes, contracts (mainly certification) and referral in legislation). To date all these means seem to lack the effectiveness needed to meaningfully advance human rights and labour condition compliance beyond the (insufficient) current level. Therefore, fundamental reform seems required.

The Dutch International Responsible Business Conduct Agreements
Martijn Scheltema has discussed the International Responsible Business Conduct Agreements at the annual meeting of Ius Commune (a collaborative initiative of European Universities) on November 24. He has addressed the effectiveness of these agreements and mentioned the enhanced collaboration between government, NGOs and business, amongst other bringing about interesting results such as the risk database in the Garment agreement. He has also elaborated on the independent binding dispute resolution mechanism of the Garment agreement.


UN Forum on Business and Human Rights 2017
Martijn Scheltema has attended the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights and has moderated and participated in two well attended sessions on November 27-29. The first highlighted two innovative approaches in the access to remedy arena, the international arbitration and human rights initiative and the acccess to remedy fund. The latter was launched in this session and aims to improve access to remedy by funding projects that contribute to this objective and learning from previously funded projects. Before this fund is established an international multi-stakeholder process will be conducted to identify its functions and governance in more detail. The arbitration initiative aims to promote the use of arbitration in the human rights arena. Currently a high profile internaitonal drafting team has been established which will draft the procedural rules for these arbitrations (chaired by Bruno Simma). This process also entails a multi-stakeholder approach. More information on these initiatives may be found at the www.l4bb.org website. The second panel addressed more detailed topics in connection with arbitration and human rights.

NILG conference 2017
Martijn Scheltema has delevered a keynote at the international NILG conference 2017 in Amsterdam on December 1. He has addressed the expanding multi-layered transnational legal order and the role of transnational private regulation therein. He has especially zoomed in on the effectiveness of this legal order in protecting human rights and supporting sustainability.

Business Human Rights at the Annual Conference of the International Bar Association
As chair of the CSR committee of the International Bar Association Martijn Scheltema has organized, moderated or spoke at six panels during the annual conference of the International Bar Association in Sydney on October 8-13. The annual conference was attended by approximately 4,500 participants. The panels have addressed the legal implications of the Volkswagen-case and the importance of embedding CSR in the corporate culture, Australian and European initiatives to improve business human rights knowledge in companies and legal practice, improving labour conditions in supply chains in developing countries and the legislation prescribing this in western countries, banking and human rights, human trafficking and modern slavery in supply chains and legal aspects of climate change. An important insight from these panels has been the relevance of early engagement of lawyers in developing strategies and measures to prevent human rights violations and enhanced implementation of human rights/CSR provisions in (supply chain) contracts and in M&A.

Business Human Rights and Dispute Settlement in Investment Agreements
Martijn Scheltema has addressed dispute resolution systems in investment agreements in connection with human rights and environmental violations by investors on a conference at Wuhan University (China) on October 17 and 18 and at a seminar at East China University (Shanghai, China) on October 20. This topic is, amongst others, relevant in connection with the current negotiations between the EU and China on an investment agreement. The current dispute resolution options seem to be less well adapted to address this issue especially towards victims of these violations. Therefore, improvements are required in this area. The dispute resolution system implemented in the EU-Canada trade agreement might pave the way for these improvements.

Business human rights due diligence in M&A
Martijn Scheltema has highlighted the importance of human rights due diligence in M&A transactions during an international conference organized by SUFE (Shanghai, China) on October 21 and 22. Introducing two cases he has illustrated the consequences of refraining from such due diligence. For example, huge (financial or reputational) damage might result. Furthermore, he has explained some western countries have made such due diligence mandatory. The discussion with the audience revealed several other examples which highlighted the importance of human rights due diligence in M&A.

OECD Forum on Responsible Business Conduct in Paris
Martijn Scheltema has attended the annual OECD Forum on Responsible Business Conduct in Paris on June 29-30. He has been invited for a lunch organized by the OECD and the International Bar Association on the role of business and human rights in mergers and acquisitions and in supply chains. He has emphasized the need for preventive action by internal and external counsel to enable leverage over suppliers, customers and target companies. Contractual mechanisms play an important role in this.

Improved human rights performance in supply chains
Martijn Scheltema has presented his paper 'contractual mechanisms to enhance human rights compliance in supply chains' at the international UCall 2017 conference in Utrecht on May 19. In his presentation and ensuing discussion he has explained which contractual mechanisms are currently used to safeguard human rights compliance and why they are not very effective. Furthermore, he has provided an overview of the current legislative developments and the need for companies to develop a global human rights due diligence approach which meets all these legislative requirements. Enhanced contractual mechanisms in supply chains may establish part of that due diligence. Building on that he has explained in which ways contractual mechanisms should be strengthened.

Launching of Academic network on Multistakeholder Initiatives
An academic network on (transnational) multistakeholder initiatives is launched at a conference at Occidental College in Los Angeles on April 4 and 5. Multistakeholder initiatives include stakeholders from different constituencies, for example non-governmental and civil society organizations, business (representatives) and often also governments and work on public interest issues such as (business and) human rights, environmental issues and climate change. The academic network is an initiative of MSI Integrity, an NGO evaluating multistakeholder initiatives in the business and human rights arena. Martijn Scheltema is a member of the steering board of this network. The conference has addressed many issues in connection with multistakeholder initiatives, such as governance issues, power imbalance between stakeholders, conflict resolution and future design of multistakeholder initiatives. It has convened academics, representatives of multistakeholder initiatives and business. Martijn has co-organized and moderated one of the plenary panels on the effectiveness of such initiatives at the conference. In his introduction his has amongst others explained why evaluation of effectiveness is necessary from a legal perspective to address for example state aid, unfair competition and public procurement issues.

CoP on self- and co-regulation meeting European Commission Brussels
Martijn Scheltema participated as member in the meeting of the Community of Practice of the European Commission on self- and co-regulation in Brussels on January 26. He has especially contributed on the assessment of effectiveness  of self- and co-regulation in the CSR/Business Human Rights arena and the need to not only assess the self-regulation itself but also its effects and performance in the broader (public) regulatory landscape. Self- and co-regulation are intertwined with the public regulatory landscape and therefore their effectiveness will be influenced by the broader also public regulatory landscape.

Martijn Scheltema on the Role of Lawyers at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights
Martijn Scheltema has participated in a panel on the role of lawyers at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva on November 15. The panel has addressed the specific functions of lawyers in the business and human rights arena, including their role in drafting contracts and dispute resolution. Martijn has emphasized the need to enhance these contractual mechanisms. The current contracts perform rather poorly in this arena and improvement is needed, for example in supply chains. Regarding dispute resolution Martijn has discussed operational level grievance mechanisms and has emphasized the need to establish them in cooperation with the intended users, because these intended users will not trust the mechanism otherwise. If they do not trust it, they will not be inclined to use it.