UK businesses with operations in the EU are now required to ensure that all stages of their supply chain respect human rights.

Under the new EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), companies must conduct due diligence to identify, mitigate, prevent and remedy harmful human rights and environmental impacts in their operations and their value chains.

This means companies must ensure human rights are respected at business partners involved in production, distribution, transport and storage of the company’s products. Initially, it affects only EU companies with more than 1,000 employees and a net worldwide turnover of more than €450 million.

The new directive is part of a wave of new legislation internationally in the wake of workers’ deaths and injuries in the garment and textile industry such as the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh.

Tirana Hassan, executive director at international organisation Human Rights Watch, said: “The EU’s Due Diligence Directive represents a landmark shift from voluntary corporate responsibility to mandatory obligations for corporations to prevent and address human rights abuses.

“This groundbreaking law is a major victory for rights groups, trade unions and civil society networks at the forefront of the fight for corporate accountability.

“Despite fierce opposition from powerful corporate lobbyists seeking to thwart or indefinitely postpone this law, this directive is a testament to the strength and perseverance of those advocating for justice and accountability in the corporate sector.”

For more on the new EU directive, visit commission.europa.eu.

hrw.org