Apparel

ICAR and the Harrison Institute lead the Learning Lab’s research on the incorporation of human rights considerations into government procurement of apparel. Amol Mehra and Bob Stumberg lead the work on this topic at ICAR and the Harrison Institute. Their biographies, as well as reports and resources related to government procurement of apparel, can be found below.

The work of the apparel hub is guided by the apparel advisory group, which is composed of the following members:

Björn Claeson, Electronics Watch / Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium
Judy Gearhart, International Labor Rights Forum
Aruna Kashyap, Human Rights Watch 
Scott NovaWorker Rights Consortium
Jessica ChampagneWorker Rights Consortium

The first meeting of the apparel advisory group took place on 27 May 2016 in Washington, D.C.

Reports and Resources

The apparel hub is currently researching and writing a report that will provide examples of good practice in relation to human rights and government procurement of apparel. This report and other apparel focused resources will be uploaded here once they are available.

Who Made Our Uniforms?

A new report published by CORE and ICAR reveals that that a third of companies that have supplied uniforms for UK public sector workers, including the armed forces and prison officers, have not reported on what they are doing to tackle slavery in their supply chains.

Our report ‘Who Made Our Uniforms?’ reveals that few contractors supplying uniforms and specialist safety clothing to the UK public sector are transparent about their ethical standards and international suppliers.

Three years ago, Parliament passed the Modern Slavery Act 2015, requiring companies to report on what they are doing to address slavery in their supply chains. But only 10 of the 30 companies analysed in the report have published a slavery and human trafficking statement, despite the apparel manufacturing sector being notorious for labour and human rights abuses.

We also explored whether companies awarded large contracts between 2013-2016 by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Crown Commercial Services (the central government purchasing unit), and Transport for London (TfL) reveal where their goods are made. Twelve companies provide general information, but none have followed the example of consumer brands like H&M, Primark, and ASOS and published factory names and addresses.

TfL is the only one of the four authorities to have published its own modern slavery statement. In 2016, TfL announced a five-year partnership deal with The Fairtrade Foundation to ethically source cotton for staff uniforms. The following year, the Mayor of London published a Responsible Procurement Policy for the Greater London Authority, covering TfL.

Yet despite the UK government’s commitment to tackling modern slavery, neither the MoD nor the MoJ make any reference to responsible procurement on their websites.

Our recommendations to Government include:

  • Require all central Government departments and public bodies with a turnover of more than £36 million to publish an annual slavery human statement to improve transparency about their supply chains, risks of labour rights abuses, and the steps they are taking to ensure adherence to international labour rights standards.
  • Consider introducing a requirement for all entities bidding for public contracts over a certain value to publish a Slavery and Human Trafficking statement, irrespective of turnover.
  • Amend § 54 of the Modern Slavery Act to remove the option for entities to report that they have taken no steps to address slavery and human trafficking.
  • Revise “The Public Contracts Regulations 2015: Guidance On Social and Environmental Aspects” in consultation with civil society organisations, academics with expertise in socially responsible procurement, and procurement professionals.
  • Implement the recommendations of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Right’s report on opportunities for SMEs in the implementation of the UNGPs.
  • Create an online database with information about the human rights practices of suppliers.
  • Invest in human rights training for public buyers.
  • Engage with industry bodies such as the Federation of Small Business to establish ways to meet the challenges of respecting human rights faced by SMEs.

You can download the full report here.

ICAR Submits Written Evidence on Human Rights and Public Procurement of Apparel to the U.K.’s Joint Committee on Human Rights

The UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights is currently conducting an inquiry on human rights and business. In response to a call for written evidence, ICAR wrote a submission on the topic of human rights and public procurement of apparel in the U.K. The submission highlights the human rights risks in global apparel supply chains, provides examples of human rights abuses linked to government purchasing, and provides recommendations on how the U.K. government can bring its apparel purchasing practices into better alignment with its duty to protect, and with UNGP 6 in particular. The full submission is available for download below.

ICAR Submission to UK JCHR on Human Rights and Public Procurement of Apparel

Apparel Hub Leader Bios

AMOL MEHRA
Director, International Corporate Accountability Roundtable
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Amol Mehra, Esq. is the Director of the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, a coalition of leading human rights, development, labor and environmental organizations working to ensure businesses respect human rights in their global operations. Amol is an international human rights lawyer by training, focusing on business and human rights and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Amol has worked to build accountability frameworks in both domestic and international arenas, including over private military and security companies and around supply chains and extractives industries, among others. Amol leads ICAR’s work on public procurement and human rights. In addition to his work as Director of ICAR, Amol is an advisor for several other organizations. For example, he serves on the Advisory Council for the American Bar Association’s Center for Human Rights and as a Coordinating Member and Thematic Specialist for Amnesty International USA. Amol holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from McGill University and a Juris Doctor (JD) degree with a Honors in International Law from the University of San Francisco School of Law.

ROBERT STUMBERG
Professor of Law and Director of the Harrison Institute for Public Law, Georgetown University Law Centerharrison_institute

Robert Stumberg is a professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center, where he also directs the Harrison Institute for Public Law. The Institute is a teaching and service program that works with public officials and nonprofit organizations. He is a coauthor of Turning a Blind Eye: Respecting Human Rights in Government Purchasing (ICAR 2014). In addition to work on procurement reform, he also contributes to projects that help governments cope with the impact of trade agreements on governing, adapt to climate change, and develop community food systems. His education includes: BA, Macalester College; JD, Georgetown University; LLM Georgetown University.