Human Rights and Your Supply Chain

Organisations are becoming more aware of and trying to manage challenges such as modern slavery, human rights, social awareness, social value, community impact, bribery and corruption,, and ethical procurement more actively within their supply chains. But it’s often difficult to know where to start and there is always the risk of adopting ‘tick-box’ solutions when attempting to engage suppliers.

Managing human rights across your supply chain has predominantly been a focus within specific sectors, such as retail and manufacturing, where tragedies and poor publicity have led to more scrutiny and accountability.

But more and more organisations are understanding the complexities of the risks and the extent of the challenges, given global events throughout 2020 and 2021. Supply chain resilience is in sharp focus, but this is no longer simply a consideration when sourcing from countries with poor human rights records and low workers’ rights.


What are the risks that need to be considered in sourcing and supply chain management?


It’s important to understand the risks before establishing pragmatic and robust solutions to mitigate and monitor. defines human rights as: “ inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.  Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.”

The need to consider human rights in responsible sourcing requires much broader consideration than just evaluating conflict affected or ‘high-risk’ areas. Due diligence is critically important in ensuring you are not complicit in human rights abuses but also in promoting and evaluating behaviours to ensure alignment to your own organisation in terms of opportunities-for-all and fair treatment.

A set of international standards were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993, these frame and guide the work of the National Human Rights Institutions. Known as ‘The Paris Principles’, key areas to consider are:

  • Accessibility
  • Independence
  • Justice
  • Dignity
  • Cooperation
  • Equality
  • Rule of Law

Human Rights


As the following map shows there are still a considerable number of countries with no National Human Rights Institutions.

However, areas in yellow should not be considered ‘safe’.  Take a look at the UK’s record on human rights to demonstrate this point:


So how can procurement meaningfully impact the management of human rights within our supply chains?


Procurement is fundamental in ensuring an organisations’ ethical and corporate responsibilities are reflected in sourcing and ongoing supply chain management conduct. Through robust initial and ongoing due diligence an organisation can evaluate how to minimise, mitigate and manage risks both within their own conduct and employment processes but also throughout their supply chain, ensuring this filters through all tiers of supply.

Through the collection, and more importantly, meaningful analysis of supplier data, procurement can not only baseline current performance but pinpoint areas of risk and manage these accordingly. Although sometimes overused or misused, collaboration in its truest sense is essential in managing human rights, modern slavery, social awareness, social value, community impact, bribery and corruption, ethical procurement and much more. Procurement should always ‘have a seat at the table’ in developing and managing strategy.

If you want to learn more about how JDP can support you in identifying and managing your supply chain risks, get in touch at


Further Reading:



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