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The Business Lawyer

Winter 2021-2022 | Volume 77, Issue 1

Balancing Buyer and Supplier Responsibilities Model Contract Clauses to Protect Workers in International Supply Chains, Version 2.0

Working Group to Draft Model Contract Clauses to Protect Human Rights in International Supply Chains


  • Many workers in international supply chains are being abused and find themselves in injurious and even deadly working conditions.
  • One of the crucial tools for addressing these problems is the contractual governance of supply chains.
  • The Model Contract Clauses (MCCs) offered here seek to help companies implement healthy corporate policies in their supply chains in a way that is both legally effective and operationally likely.
Balancing Buyer and Supplier Responsibilities Model Contract Clauses to Protect Workers in International Supply Chains, Version 2.0
iStock/Heidi Patricola

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This project was born of challenge, frustration, and hope. There is little doubt that workers in international supply chains are being abused, in the most horrifying ways, even as they work to produce the staples of our everyday lives and indeed support much of our economy. Young children and enslaved people pick and process cocoa and coffee beans; they pick and process cotton; they sew clothes, weld steel, and assemble sporting goods; they mine rare minerals and extract valuable sources of energy. Many workers find themselves in injurious and even deadly working conditions, with people hurt and killed by the hundreds. Supply chains can be riddled with modern forms of slavery, particularly debt-bonded labor. Much has been invested in ameliorating these conditions but not enough. They continue, and they are now sharpened and heightened by the enveloping crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the crucial tools for addressing these problems is the contractual governance of supply chains. The Model Contract Clauses (MCCs) offered here seek to help companies implement healthy corporate policies in their supply chains in a way that is both legally effective and operationally likely. In general, the MCCs do not state the human rights performance standards themselves. The MCCs do not state what the working conditions must be like, how many fire exits are necessary, or what measures must safeguard against conflict minerals. The MCCs are designed for use across sectors, so the substantive standards will vary (clothing brands need no standards on conflict minerals, and electronics makers are not concerned with cotton sourcing). The human rights standards that the supplier must follow are assumed to be stated in what is here called Schedule P (P for Policy), and the standards that the buyer must follow are assumed to be stated in Schedule Q. Both Schedules P and Q are likely to take the form of codes of conduct, one for the supplier and one for the buyer. They are outside the scope of the MCCs themselves. This practice is typical. A purchase agreement consists largely, if not entirely, of legal obligations; the specifications for the goods themselves are often contained in separate schedules or in other documents. Although the Working Group cannot offer a model Schedule P because of the wide variation across industries, we do provide the building blocks for Schedule P for buyers that are starting to consider or are revising their expectations of their contracting partners. Because it is less industry-specific, a standard Schedule Q is offered, enumerating and explaining the responsible purchasing practices that buyers may be expected to follow.

The Model Contract Clauses offered below (MCCs 2.0) are designed as an improvement on and an alternative to those published three years ago (MCCs 1.0). MCCs 1.0 were intended to harness supply contracts as one critical tool—among many—to put human rights policies into operation while managing company risk. Although many corporations have admirable human rights policies, mere policies can languish if they are not integrated into the operational and legal life of the company and particularly into the company’s supply chains. MCCs 1.0 were drafted to give counsel a model to follow in operationalizing their companies’ human rights policies, easing the task for overburdened corporate counsel, and giving the benefit of extensive research conducted by the Working Group.

MCCs 1.0 met with considerable interest and enthusiasm, and the Working Group received extensive feedback that was often supportive, sometimes critical, and sometimes both. The great interest in the project also led to the informal augmentation of the Working Group with many voices from outside the Business Law Section, which is the official location of the Working Group (under the auspices of the Uniform Commercial Code [U.C.C.] Committee). With that feedback, the Working Group embarked on a new version of the MCCs. Version 1.0 envisioned a business model where buyers were confronted with troublesome suppliers who would violate the human rights of workers; the buyers would need to manage this problem through contractual control of their suppliers, and the MCCs could help them do so. Additional research reveals, however, that human rights violations at the supplier level are often rooted in the buyers’ own purchasing practices, particularly by timing demands, pricing pressures, and last-minute order modifications, as well as a lack of due diligence—turning a blind eye—to human rights issues. MCCs 2.0 accordingly assign contractual responsibility for human rights in the supply chain to the buyers as well as the suppliers. In these revised clauses, buyers commit to responsible purchasing practices while suppliers commit to responsible and ethical management of their workforce and their subsuppliers. Crucially, both buyers and suppliers are required to engage in “human rights due diligence.” These responsibilities are enforceable, although the legal remedies are not facile. MCCs 2.0 now include extensive provisions on human rights remediation as well as more standard contract remedies.

To many lawyers, the addition of buyer responsibilities is the most significant change from MCCs 1.0, but the shift from a regime of representations and warranties in MCCs 1.0 to a regime of human rights due diligence in MCCs 2.0 is at least as important. Several strong forces motivated this move. In any case, large multinational enterprises (MNEs) will likely find themselves subject to mandatory human rights due diligence. Human rights due diligence is already mandatory for companies meeting certain criteria under French law, and regulatory efforts in a similar direction are well underway in European Union law. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will benefit from a more realistic regime of due diligence rather than the strict liability of representations and warranties that, as a practical matter, will often be untrue and therefore routinely breached. In other words, MCCs 2.0 move from a demand that the supplier make a number of representations and warranties that both parties will perhaps know to be false, or doubtful, to a contractual expectation that all parties in the supply chain, from the buyer itself to its top-tier suppliers to the lowest level subcontractors, will all be duly diligent about human rights impacts. In some ways, due diligence is familiar as it is a constant in corporate practice. Still, many lawyers will find it new in two ways. Obviously, it is a move away from more traditional contract drafting that centers on standard “reps and warranties.” More fundamentally, human rights due diligence is not simply about assessment of corporate risk and assuring legal compliance but instead requires a consideration of stakeholders’ (including workers’) interests that are not identical to those of the contracting parties.

More broadly, MCCs 2.0 seek to align much more closely with the 2011 UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises as well as the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct. The UNGPs and OECD Guidelines and Guidance have enjoyed wide uptake by many businesses already, and the ABA itself has officially endorsed the UNGPs, as have numerous other bar organizations. Aside from human rights due diligence, the UNGPs and the Guidelines drove several significant changes in MCCs 2.0. Human rights remediation is generally prioritized over typical contract remedies (like money damages), and issues like pricing, changes of circumstances (such as COVID-19), timing, and modifications are addressed expressly. In addition, the Working Group discovered that while many companies already have committed to respect human rights in their corporate codes of conduct, many are looking for help in doing so in their supply chains. Accordingly, we are offering guidance with respect to what buyers may require of their suppliers in the form of “Building Blocks for Schedule P” as well as guidance in the form of a Schedule Q that states the buyer’s responsibilities. Schedule Q fills a gap in the supply chain governance arena because most codes of conduct apply to suppliers, not buyers. As there are few, if any, examples of buyer codes, Schedule Q is specific and detailed.

Some of these changes are path-breaking but necessary. As detailed below, the legislative move to mandatory human rights due diligence has already started. France led the way, with other countries considering similar legislation, and the European Union has announced that it will be moving in this direction. Large MNEs may already be subject to such rules because of their business in France or the Netherlands, and others may soon find themselves in a like position. That said, many companies find themselves very differently situated, and this project has always been intended for a broad range of companies, including SMEs. Further, different companies are in different places with respect to the commitments they want to make and the responsibilities they can undertake. For these reasons, the MCCs 2.0 retain a fully modular approach so that companies can choose the commitments that best reflect their positions, their goals, and their sector of activity. This is not a certification document; it is not a prix fixe menu. Companies are fully free to order their contractual provisions à la carte, choosing the clauses and the commitments that are right for them.

Version 1.0, the Chief Issues Addressed, and the Resolutions Retained in Version 2.0

This project was originally conceived as an effort in legal problem-solving, careful drafting, and research in order to move corporate commitments from mere policy statements to the legal and operational side of companies. It was instigated by a previous ABA project: after much effort and negotiation, the ABA adopted model principles against labor trafficking and child labor. The Business Law Section had achieved some success in convincing companies to adopt these principles, but there was considerable concern that they were ineffective as mere policy statements. The Working Group was formed to operationalize them, in corporate parlance. The Working Group saw its mission as making corporate human rights policies legally effective and operationally likely. These twin goals remain our mantra.

The main challenge at the initial stage of the work was to solve the mismatch between commercial law rules and human rights law and standards. The problem is that goods made in unacceptable conditions might fully conform to product specifications. As we said then, “The background law does not deal easily with the problem of soccer balls that are perfectly stitched but that were sewn by child slaves.” The problem manifests itself primarily with respect to conformity and remedies, and MCCs 1.0 took on the task of resolving those issues. The first version of the MCCs was geared to solve a commercial law problem and to assure that the clauses would be likely to work with typical purchasing documents. They were designed as a helpful resource for companies’ counsel.

The chief issues were making supplier obligations flow through the entire supply chain; allowing for traditional contract remedies along with human rights remediation even if suppliers’ defaults did not lead to defective goods (e.g., perfect shirts that were made in extremely dangerous conditions); conceiving of mitigation as something other than resale at market prices (because the goods may be “perfect” but nevertheless tainted by their reprehensible provenance); allowing a full range of remedies in a less-than-promising international transaction; and structuring the relationship through the use of disclaimers to limit the liability of buyers. MCCs 1.0 offered solutions to these issues, and for the most part they remain in MCCs 2.0, although no solution is ideal. They were (and are) as follows.

  • All responsibilities flow through the entire supply chain under broad definitions of subcontractors, employees, and representatives, and duties are imposed on all of them. See MCCs 2.0 ¶ 1.2.
  • In MCCs 1.0, goods are nonconforming and the buyer has a right of rejection and cancellation or avoidance if the supplier has violated Schedule P. See MCCs 1.0 ¶ 2. This right remains in MCCs 2.0 unless the buyer failed to engage in responsible purchasing practices. See MCCs 2.0 ¶ 3. If the buyer did contribute to the problem, the situation is more complex. See MCCs 2.0 ¶¶ 2.3(e), 6.2(f ), 6.5(b).
  • Mitigation is reconceived (as is “acceptance” under U.C.C. § 2-606) in recognition of the possibility that reselling tainted goods might actually increase damages (e.g., through reputational harm and other consequential damage). Alternative mitigation could include donating the tainted goods to charity, for instance, unless other action is required by law, as when the U.S. trafficking statutes are implicated. See MCCs 2.0 ¶ 6.4.
  • Remedies are still specified in detail, taking into account the particular problems of tainted but otherwise conforming goods, reputational harm, informational issues, and so on. See MCCs 2.0 ¶ 6. Nevertheless, MCCs 2.0 make clear that neither party should profit from breaches of ethical practice. See MCCs 2.0 ¶ 6.3(a). Further, remedies in MCCs 2.0 must be understood in conjunction with the commitment to human rights remediation of the problem (see ¶ 2) rather than termination of the relationship. This shift is discussed further below.
  • Although some who have worked on the project have pushed hard to remove them, the disclaimers have been retained in modified form. Compare MCCs 1.0 ¶ 5.7, with MCCs 2.0 ¶ 7.

The treatment of disclaimers deserves further consideration. The problem is that a variety of legal doctrines may perversely discourage buyers from taking affirmative steps to identify and address human rights abuses in their supply chains. Typically, buyers have no enforceable duties to workers who are legally separated from the buyers, and in most international supply chains, the workers are legally remote from the ultimate buyers (although buyers are prohibited under U.S. law from importing goods made with forced labor). If the buyer takes affirmative steps, however, it may become liable to workers for failing to use reasonable care in an undertaking that it willingly undertook. Further, some types of control by buyers over suppliers may sacrifice the suppliers’ independent contractor status, which can be so important in shielding buyers from liability. For these reasons, the disclaimers in MCCs 1.0 sought to maintain the legal independence of the suppliers, even though the buyer was imposing duties on its suppliers to keep the supply chain clean. For example, while a buyer might monitor its suppliers, MCCs 1.0 provide that the buyer assumes no duty to do so.

Some buyers, of course, may have noncontractual legal duties to monitor, to disclose information, and so on; for instance, buyers who are federal contractors and therefore bound by the Federal Acquisition Regulation must “monitor, detect, and terminate the contract with a subcontractor or agent engaging in prohibited activities.” And all buyers may have a duty to disclose the discovery of forced labor in their supply chains under some circumstances. Further, buyers who commit to abide by the UNGPs or other norms may be under their own corporate duty to do just that, which will involve considerable involvement in keeping their supply chains clean. Such buyers will monitor their suppliers on an ongoing basis to determine whether they are in compliance with Schedule P, and they must map their supply chains to determine whether their products are produced with human rights abuse at more remote links in the chain, below those suppliers with whom they have a direct contractual relationship. Such monitoring and mapping are fundamental to human rights due diligence under the UNGPs. None of this, however, means that contractual disclaimers are inappropriate. That buyers may have a regulatory or statutory duty, enforceable by the government, or their own corporate commitments to the UNGPs or other norms, does not mean that buyers will also want to incur parallel contractual (or tort) liability, enforceable by their contracting counterparties or other private plaintiffs, except as stated explicitly in the contract.

Buyer reluctance to take on additional liability to private plaintiffs should come as no surprise; millions of dollars are spent in litigation over implied private rights of action. The disclaimers simply say that the buyer takes on no contractual duties beyond those explicitly stated; the buyer may or may not owe duties for some other reason, but the disclaimer expressly rejects private contractual enforcement of such duties. The disclaimers thus do important work in protecting buyers who choose to become more involved in managing their supply chains rather than burying their heads in the sand. In short, they help companies manage their risk while they comply with their duties, being clear that some companies may wish to limit who can sue under the contract for alleged breaches of those duties. And to be clear, as just noted, the buyer in MCCs 2.0 does take on some explicitly stated contractual duties, as discussed in the next section. The disclaimers as drafted in MCCs 1.0 are flat, but in Version 2.0 the disclaimers are necessarily qualified: it would not be true to say that the buyer is taking on no obligation to monitor its supply chain, for instance. The buyer is taking on that and other responsibilities as part of its human rights due diligence in Article 1. Thus, the disclaimers remain in MCCs 2.0, but with exceptions for the obligations that the buyer takes on elsewhere in the agreement.

The Move to Buyers Sharing Responsibility with Suppliers

A number of reasons have motivated the addition of buyer responsibilities, but two are compelling: protection for workers cannot happen successfully without buyer responsibility, and many buyers are now or will soon be legally required to take on this responsibility. These twin reasons are all the stronger because they are intertwined.

Buyers’ purchasing practices can play a key role both in protecting and in harming workers. Version 1.0 of the MCCs was conceived on the notion that problems in the supply chain are caused by irresponsible suppliers, not by the ultimate buyer. This is in tension with the UNGPs, the research that supports them, and more recent research in conjunction with the drafting of MCCs 2.0. In short, if the MCCs are to be successful, buyers need to follow responsible purchasing practices.

Extensive research has shed light on the realities of international supply chain contracting and the role of buyers’ purchasing practices. The leaders of the Principled Purchasing Project, which is part of the Working Group, put together an extraordinary set of consultations during the summer of 2020. It is not necessarily the kind of rigorous empirical research from which findings may be generalized, but we did hear from many people in many sectors. Consultations were held with representatives of large Western buyers (including three companies that are certainly household names), with a third party that is often involved in remediation, with nongovernmental organizations and others from civil society, with investors committed to ESG values, with representatives of multilateral international organizations, with standard setters and auditors, with union and labor advocates, with industry associations, and with suppliers from several countries in East and South Asia. After these consultations and other research, the Working Group has no doubt that buyer demands, typically related to production times, price requirements, or change orders, can often cause or contribute to human rights violations. It has become clear that improving buyers’ purchasing practices is central to protecting workers from human rights abuses. To be effective, the MCCs must provide mechanisms for buyers to share responsibility with suppliers.

To the business-minded lawyer, effectiveness must always be the ultimate goal, but any lawyer’s mind is trained to home in on legal risks; developing legal requirements on human rights due diligence and increased legal enforcement of existing regulations heighten the need for buyers to focus on their responsibility. It is still true that policing supply chains carries risks, and candid lawyers must acknowledge as much to their clients. But the countervailing risks have been heavy for some time, and they are becoming even weightier now. When MCCs 1.0 were published, companies were already concerned with a variety of compliance obligations, particularly around federal trafficking, forced labor, and child labor statutes, as well as disclosure obligations under some state and foreign laws. Many of these may have seemed like paper obligations, and companies seldom if ever felt the brunt of any enforcement. That has changed, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection has now seized numerous cargoes under withhold release orders issued pursuant to antitrafficking laws. Corporate boards and officers can no longer afford attractive but ineffective corporate policies. Few current risk assessments will be able to justify turning a blind eye to the problems.

And if U.S. Customs enforcement were not enough to spur action, new legislation has also begun to require companies to be responsible for their supply chains, and not just concerning child labor, forced labor, and conflict minerals, but also with respect to working conditions and workers’ health and safety. For many years, admittedly, companies had few seriously enforced legal incentives to clean their supply chains. That landscape changed when France passed its duty of vigilance law in 2017 and the Netherlands passed a similar Child Labor Diligence Act in 2019. The EU is now showing every sign of following suit. These changes are discussed in the next section, but the point for now is that both operational effectiveness and legal obligation, in practice and on paper, require buyers to take responsibility for their supply chains. MCCs 2.0 help them to do that.

The Move from Representations and Warranties to Human Rights Due Diligence

The same two reasons—operational effectiveness and enforced legal requirements—that compel the addition of buyer responsibilities within MCCs 2.0 also require the move from representations and warranties to human rights due diligence. For many MNEs there is not much of a risk calculus on this score; simply put, human rights due diligence is currently required by French law and Dutch law and will likely be required very soon by EU law. Even for MNEs that are not subject to French and Dutch law and that will not be subject to EU law, and for SMEs in similar circumstances, the move still makes sense. The regime of representations and warranties, with their accompanying strict liability—if they are not true, there is breach—is unrealistic and ineffective, and often so much so as to be downright fictitious. Frequently, this regime is thought to lead to what is called a “tickbox” or “checkbox” approach to supply chain management in which buyers require a laundry list of representations of compliance from their suppliers. Suppliers mechanistically provide them by checking the boxes, and everyone goes home happy (although they may be more than a little resentful of time wasted filling forms). Little is achieved.

The move from representation-and-warranty to due diligence is eminently practical, then, and should be reassuring to the parties. The participants in the supply chain are no longer being asked, unrealistically and fictitiously, to literally guarantee perfect compliance with the human rights and safety standards in Schedule P and the principled purchasing practices in Schedule Q. Instead, they are being required to be duly diligent, on an ongoing basis, about achieving those goals. This is not mere aspiration; the parties are contractually obligated to use reasonable means to achieve the goal. But there is no longer strict liability for failure of perfect compliance. And there is no longer the knowledge, certain to both parties, that the human rights obligations of the contract are breached the moment it is signed.

Although warranty rather than due diligence is the usual style of contract drafting in common law countries, diligence obligations are no stranger to the common law. Notions of good faith efforts or best efforts are standard in many contracts for sales of goods, and due diligence accords well with the obligation de moyens, which is sometimes even called an obligation de diligence, in the civil law. To some, the switch may seem surprising; after all, if human rights are so crucial, should the parties not be expected to be strictly liable rather than merely to use appropriate efforts? Yet, given the size and complexity of many supply chains, the varying capabilities of different companies, from the largest MNEs to the most modest SMEs, due diligence is the better regime. These inescapable facts are recognized in the UNGPs. Under Guiding Principle 24, businesses are entitled to prioritize and focus their attention on the most severe human rights harms or on harms that would become irremediable in the event of a delayed response. Not everything can be made perfect, ever, much less all at once. Perfection is not and cannot be the standard. Priorities are necessary, as is reflected in MCCs 2.0, particularly sections 2.3(c) and 2.5.

Human rights due diligence is a prospective, retrospective, and ongoing risk management process that enables businesses to respect human rights by identifying, preventing, mitigating, and accounting for how they address the impacts of their activities on human rights. To be effective, it requires understanding the perspective of potentially affected individuals or “stakeholders,” and engagement with stakeholders pervades each stage of the process. It is understood within the context of the UNGPs and the subsequent OECD Guidelines and Guidance. The OECD Due Diligence Guidance provides enterprises with the flexibility to adapt due diligence to their circumstances, recognizing that the nature and extent of diligence will be affected by the size of the enterprise, the context of its operations, and other factors. Specific guidance for SMEs seeking to implement effective human rights due diligence processes can also be found in the Guidance. In addition, the OECD has produced sector-specific due diligence guidance for the minerals, extractives, agriculture, garment and footwear, and financial sectors, as well as guidance that applies across sectors. Like the Guiding Principles, a key aspect of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance is to carry out and improve the diligence process on an ongoing basis. Although the language is not well suited for contract clauses, the following list provides a good, though not exhaustive, understanding of the concept. Human rights due diligence includes:

  1. embedding responsible business conduct into the culture of the company through leadership, incentives, policies, and management systems;
  2. identifying and assessing actual and potential adverse human rights impacts, throughout the supply chain, that the contract-related activities may cause or contribute to, or that may be directly linked to the operations, products, or services contemplated by the contract;
  3. ceasing, preventing, and mitigating such adverse impacts;
  4. tracking and monitoring, in consultation and collaboration with internal and external stakeholders, the success of mitigation or prevention;
  5. communicating how adverse impacts are addressed, mitigated, or avoided; and
  6. providing for or cooperating in remediation where appropriate.

As can be appreciated from this list, while due diligence is familiar to corporations and their counsel, human rights due diligence is not coterminous with the kind of due diligence undertaken for a merger or a public offering. Human rights due diligence goes beyond technical legal compliance and includes the need to look at risks through the perspective of the stakeholder, as learned through engagement with the stakeholder; the prioritization of responsive action by severity of impact on the stakeholder; the need to search on an ongoing basis for human rights risks throughout the entire supply chain, and not just the first few tiers; the development of leverage to influence contractual parties to refrain from, mitigate, or remediate harm to human rights; and the need to go beyond the limits of local law. In other words, human rights due diligence is a necessary part of ongoing supply chain management; it is proactive, forward and backward looking, responsive to actual or potential impacts, and requires meaningful and regular engagement with stakeholders. Under the present law, to some degree, and under the law as it is developing, those impacts are part of the inescapable responsibility of the contracting parties, and that is why they are the focus of the first obligation stated in MCCs 2.0.

Express Treatment of Human Rights Remediation

Human rights remediation receives extensive treatment in MCCs 2.0. In contrast, MCCs 1.0 provide for termination on breach but assume the parties would not actually move to termination except in the rarest and most egregious circumstances. Instead, the parties would work to remediate the problem by taking measures to stop and correct the harm and to address any grievances. Termination, generally speaking, is in no one’s interest. The buyer does not want to suffer the disruption and incur the delay or switching costs to transfer its business to new suppliers. The supplier certainly does not want to lose business. And except in the most extreme circumstances, the workers do not want to lose their jobs and their livelihood, such as it is. MCCs 1.0 give the buyer a termination right, which would increase the buyer’s leverage, as contemplated by the UNGPs and OECD Guidelines, in order to require human rights remediation by the supplier. In this way MCCs 1.0 are similar to many loan documents that allow a lender to call a loan upon default, accelerating all amounts due and requiring immediate payment, even though in most circumstances everyone expects the loan to be sent to “workouts” where efforts can be made to salvage the loan. Of course, not all loan documentation works this way, and similarly, MCCs 1.0 provide an alternative for notice and cure if the parties want to provide contractually for human rights remediation.

Because everyone should contemplate remediation in almost all circumstances, MCCs 2.0 flip the position of MCCs 1.0 and provide for remediation expressly and extensively. In addition, remediation is not solely the responsibility of the supplier; the buyer must participate if it has caused or contributed to the problem. These provisions are not only in keeping with the shared responsibility of buyers and suppliers but also seem especially appropriate in cases where the buyer has caused or contributed to the harm. On the other hand, and perhaps just as obviously, cases may arise where the conduct is so egregious that immediate termination is required, with no opportunity for remediation, and MCCs 2.0 provide expressly for this as well. These cases involve what are often called zero-tolerance activities.

Force Majeure, Responsible Exit, COVID-19, and Other Disruptions

The radical disruptions of COVID have caused new problems in supply chains and exacerbated old ones. MCCs 2.0 address these problems with two innovative provisions. MCCs 2.0 acknowledge that the intervention of an event like COVID, or a particularly vicious monsoon, or political unrest, or countless other events, could upset the supply chain in a way that the goods could only be produced in violation of the commitments in Schedule P. Often these violations occur because of unauthorized subcontracting. In the case of COVID, lack of personal protective equipment could make production unsafe. These events may or may not constitute a force majeure, and the outcomes of judicial decisions on this issue are notoriously unpredictable under the U.C.C. and international sales law. Judicial resolution of disputes in international supply chains is often impractical anyway. For these reasons, the clauses themselves provide guidance.

Notably, they apply to any “reasonably unforeseeable, industry-wide or geographically specific, material change” regardless of whether the change constitutes a force majeure. A supplier may exit the relationship without default if staying in the relationship would force it to breach Schedule P. When it comes to buyers wanting to exit the relationship, for whatever reason, including a force majeure event or something similar, the clauses impose on the buyer a duty to “consider the potential adverse human rights impacts and employ commercially reasonable efforts to avoid or mitigate them,” regardless of the reason for exit. In light of claims that many buyers abandoned their suppliers when the COVID-19 lockdowns set in without compensating them—even for completely manufactured goods, and, in some cases, even for goods that had already been shipped—MCCs 2.0 add that “[t]ermination of this Agreement shall be without prejudice to any rights or obligations accrued prior to the date of termination, including, without limitation, payment that is due for goods.”

These clauses hardly solve all the problems of force majeure, COVID, and similar events. Nothing can. But they bring human rights into the equation and may help the parties reach resolutions that take into account a broad view of the interests involved.

The Addition of Dispute Resolution in MCCs 2.0

Because the MCCs are drafted as an addition to a primary sales agreement, Version 1.0 contains no provision for dispute resolution. Presumably choice of law, choice of forum, arbitration, or the like would be treated in the main agreement. After publication of MCCs 1.0, the Working Group learned more about the special context of dispute resolution that involves human rights, and for that reason MCCs 2.0 add two relevant provisions.

Most prominently, clauses on nonjudicial dispute resolution have been added. For companies that prefer to litigate rather than arbitrate, litigation remains an option. (Alternative drafting is offered in MCCs 2.0 ¶ 8.6, so companies can choose arbitration or litigation.) Still, even companies that want judicial resolution of ultimate disputes may benefit from pre-litigation efforts at amicable resolution, and these mechanisms are set up in this new version. This kind of collaborative resolution is consonant with the more cooperative approach now taken in much cutting-edge supply chain management. Many companies will find the “up the line” scheme to be consistent with their management practices in many other business contexts.

In addition, as MCCs 2.0 align more closely with the UNGPs, an “operational level grievance mechanism” is set up to address problems as they arise. This mechanism is informal, but it is nevertheless required, and it must be fully functional. Again, its purpose—to be “legitimate, accessible, predictable, equitable, transparent, rights-compatible, a source of continuous learning and based on engagement and dialogue with affected stakeholders, including workers”—will align with many companies’ efforts toward collaborative supply chain management. Further, it is required for consistency with the UNGPs.

Conclusion: Companies Can Choose the Commitments that Suit Their Needs and Goals

A modular approach is the central drafting strategy of the MCCs in both versions. The Working Group fully recognizes that not all companies are in the same place. Not only do they possess differing capabilities and face varying contexts, they are simply in different positions in their approach to human rights. Some companies—often those that have been involved in the worst problems—have advanced far in taking responsibility for the effects of their business on human rights. Other companies have taken only a few steps, and many have not yet started on the path. The MCCs are drafted for all of these companies and are designed so that counsel, with a minimum of effort, can adapt them to the particular circumstances of each company.

The Working Group has faced calls to require buyers to agree to all of the clauses, to prohibit “cherry-picking,” and to mandate a particular allocation of responsibility. And the Working Group has faced criticism for failing to do so, or for rejecting goals that can only be aspirational. These calls and criticisms misconceive the place of the Working Group. We cannot impose duties or mandate compliance. Nor have we chosen an aspirational mission. We are a creature of the Uniform Commercial Code Committee of the ABA Business Law Section, and we see ourselves as practical lawyers. The original and ongoing goal to draft clauses that are “legally effective and operationally likely” can only be achieved if companies adopt the clauses. Otherwise the MCCs will be relegated to even greater irrelevance than the corporate policies that languish, unused, in the minute books of board meetings. Accordingly, the MCCs are drafted so that companies can eliminate clauses that do not fit their goals; they can use MCCs 1.0 if MCCs 2.0 are too much; they can adapt everything to meet their needs. For many companies, the most critical step is the first one—to start taking measures to improve their contracts. If the Working Group can make it easier to take that first step, we will have accomplished one of our most important objectives. That is not our only objective, however. We hope to provide guidance for companies that would like to move into a leadership position. We have tried to achieve balance while understanding that different companies walk on different tightropes in different tents.

We began with the confession that challenge, frustration, and hope were the catalysts for this project, and their powerful combustion continues to move the project forward. After publication of MCCs 1.0, it became clear that an ambitious effort toward revision would be needed to meet the goals of the project, which at its center is focused on improving the human rights of workers and other stakeholders, practically and immediately, through contracts—one of the most potent tools available. At the same time, we know that more needs to be learned, that new methods of supply chain management are coming into use, that new laws are in the offing, and that more work will need to be done. For now, we believe MCCs 2.0 offer a practical tool for companies that want to commit to protecting workers and other stakeholders in their international supply chains. It is not an easy task. The problem is spread across the world and results from countless factors, including basic economic realities. It will not be fixed soon, and it will not be fixed by supply chain reform alone or by contract clauses standing by themselves. This is the challenge. And it is sometimes frustrating that the problem can seem intractable, particularly since so many people, with different missions, different incentives, and different perspectives, contend for so many different solutions. Still, we believe that every effort can help and that practical solutions offered for even the most complex problems can result in real improvements in the lives of real people. That is our ultimate objective.


  1. Mutual Obligations with Respect to Combatting Abusive Practices in Supply Chains
    1. 1.1 Human Rights Due Diligence
    2. 1.2 Schedule P Compliance Throughout the Supply Chain
    3. 1.3 Buyer’s Commitment to Support Supplier Compliance with Schedule P
    4. 1.4 Operational-Level Grievance Mechanism
  2. Remediating Adverse Human Rights Impacts Linked to Contractual Activity
    1. 2.1 Notice of Potential or Actual Violations
    2. 2.2 Investigation
    3. 2.3 Remediation Plan
    4. 2.4 Right to Cure
    5. 2.5 Right to Immediate Termination
  3. Rejection of Goods and [Cancellation] [Avoidance] of Agreement
    1. 3.1 Strict Compliance
    2. 3.2 Rejection of Nonconforming Goods
    3. 3.3 [Cancellation] [Avoidance]
    4. 3.4 Timely Notice
  4. Revocation of Acceptance
    1. 4.1 Notice of Buyer’s Discovery
    2. 4.2 Same Rights and Duties as Rejection
    3. 4.3 Timeliness
  5. Nonvariation of Matters Related to Schedule P
    1. 5.1 Course of Performance, Established Practices, and Customs
    2. 5.2 No Waiver of Remedy
  6. Buyer Remedies
    1. 6.1 Breach and Notice of Breach
    2. 6.2 Exercise of Remedies
    3. 6.3 Damages
    4. 6.4 Return, Destruction or Donation of Goods; Nonacceptance of Goods
    5. 6.5 Indemnification; Comparative Fault Calculation
  7. Disclaimers
    1. 7.1 Negation of Buyer’s Contractual Duties Except as Stated
    2. 7.2 Third-Party Beneficiaries
  8. Dispute Resolution
    1. 8.1 Dispute Resolution Procedures
    2. 8.2 Confidentiality
    3. 8.3 Joinder of Multiple Parties
    4. 8.4 Informal Good Faith Negotiations
    5. 8.5 Mediation
    6. 8.6 Arbitration Litigation
    7. 8.7 Emergency Measures
    8. 8.8 Arbitration Award

Clauses to be inserted into supply contracts, purchase orders, or similar documents for the sale of goods

The text proposed assumes that buyers are located in the United States and that the applicable law is either (a) U.S. state law that implements the Uniform Commercial Code without material nonuniform amendment or (b) the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (the CISG, a treaty to which the United States is a party and which applies to many international sales of goods under CISG article 1(1)(a)).

For the most part, substantive human rights standards and ethical purchasing practices are not contained in these clauses and are instead assumed to be specified in Schedule P and Schedule Q, respectively. For companies that do not already have substantive human rights requirements for their suppliers, “Building Blocks for Schedule P” is included separately to provide guidance. A pro forma Schedule Q is also provided separately. In the clauses below, please refer to the footnotes for explanations of risks, statutory and case law, and human rights guidance from the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the Guiding Principles or UNGPs) and the 2011 OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (the OECD Guidelines) as well as the 2018 OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct (the OECD Due Diligence Guidance).

  • 1 Mutual Obligations with Respect to Combatting Abusive Practices in Supply Chains. As of the Effective Date of this Agreement, Buyer and Supplier each agree:
    • 1.1 Human Rights Due Diligence.
      • (a) Buyer and Supplier each covenants to establish and maintain a human rights due diligence process appropriate to its size and circumstances to identify, prevent, mitigate, and account for how each of Buyer and Supplier addresses the impacts of its activities on the human rights of individuals directly or indirectly affected by their supply chains, consistent with the 2011 United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Such human rights due diligence shall be consistent with guidance from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development for the applicable party’s sector (or, if no such sector-specific guidance exists, shall be consistent with the 2018 OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct (the OECD Due Diligence Guidance)).
      • (b) [Buyer and Supplier each] [Supplier] shall and shall cause each of its [shareholders/partners, officers, directors, employees,] agents and all subcontractors, consultants and any other person providing staffing for Goods or services required by this Agreement (collectively, such party’s “Representatives”) to disclose information on all matters relevant to the human rights due diligence process in a timely and accurate fashion to [the other party] [Buyer].
      • (c) For the avoidance of doubt, each party is independently responsible for upholding its obligations under this Section 1.1, and a breach by one party of its obligations under this Section 1.1 shall not relieve the other party of its obligations under this Agreement.
      • (d) Human rights due diligence hereunder may include implementation and monitoring of a remediation plan to address issues identified by due diligence that was conducted before the Effective Date.
    • 1.2 Schedule P Compliance Throughout the Supply Chain. Supplier shall ensure that each of its Representatives acting in connection with this Agreement shall engage with Supplier and any other Representative in due diligence in accordance with Section 1.1 to ensure compliance with Schedule P. Such relationships shall be formalized in written contracts that secure from the parties terms [in compliance with] [equivalent to those imposed by] [at least as protective as those imposed by] Schedule P. Supplier shall keep records of such written contracts to demonstrate compliance with its obligations under this Agreement and shall deliver such records to Buyer as reasonably requested.
    • 1.3 Buyer’s Commitment to Support Supplier Compliance with Schedule P.
      • (a) Commitment to Responsible Purchasing Practices. Buyer commits to support Supplier’s compliance with Schedule P by engaging in responsible purchasing practices [in accordance with Schedule Q].
      • (b) Reasonable Assistance. If Buyer’s due diligence determines Supplier requires assistance to comply with Schedule P, Buyer, if it elects not to terminate this Agreement under Section 2.5, shall employ commercially reasonable efforts to provide such assistance], which may include Supplier training, upgrading facilities, and strengthening management systems.] Buyer’s assistance shall not be deemed a waiver by Buyer of any of its rights, claims or defenses under this Agreement or under applicable law.
      • (c) [Pricing. Buyer shall collaborate with Supplier to agree on a contract price that accommodates costs associated with upholding responsible business conduct, [including, for the avoidance of doubt, minimum wage and health and safety costs, at a standard at least as high as required by applicable law [and International Labour Organisation norms]].]
      • (d) Modifications. For any material modification (including, but not limited to, change orders, quantity increases or decreases, or changes to design specifications) requested by Buyer or Supplier, Buyer and Supplier shall consider the potential human rights impacts of such modification and take action to avoid or mitigate any adverse impacts, including by amending the modification [consistent with Schedule Q]. If Buyer and Supplier fail to agree upon modifications and/or amendments that would avoid a Schedule P breach, then either party may initiate dispute resolution in accordance with Article 8.
      • (e) Excused Non-Performance. If (i) Supplier provides notice and reasonably satisfactory evidence to Buyer that a Schedule P breach is reasonably likely to occur because of a requested modification or because of a reasonably unforeseeable, industry-wide or geographically specific, material change to a condition affecting Supplier; (ii) the parties cannot agree on a solution that avoids breach of Schedule P; and (iii) Supplier elects not to perform in order to avoid breaching Schedule P, then the parties hereby agree that this Agreement or a specific purchase order hereunder may be terminated in whole or in part by Supplier and that Supplier shall not be in default of its obligations under this Agreement as a result of such non-performance.
      • (f ) Responsible Exit. In any termination of this Agreement by Buyer, whether due to a failure by Supplier to comply with this Agreement or for any other reason (including the occurrence of a force majeure event or any other event that lies beyond the control of the parties), Buyer shall (i) consider the potential adverse human rights impacts and employ commercially reasonable efforts to avoid or mitigate them; and (ii) provide reasonable notice to Supplier of its intent to terminate this Agreement. Termination of this Agreement shall be without prejudice to any rights or obligations accrued prior to the date of termination, including, without limitation, payment that is due for acceptable goods produced by Supplier pursuant to Buyer’s purchase orders before termination.
    • 1.4 Operational-Level Grievance Mechanism. During the term of this Agreement, Supplier shall maintain an adequately funded and governed non-judicial Operational-Level Grievance Mechanism (“OLGM”) in order to effectively address, prevent, and remedy any adverse human rights impacts that may occur in connection with this Agreement. Supplier shall ensure that the OLGM is legitimate, accessible, predictable, equitable, transparent, rights-compatible, a source of continuous learning, and based on engagement and dialogue with affected stakeholders, including workers. Supplier shall maintain open channels of communication with those individuals or groups of stakeholders that are likely to be adversely impacted by potential or actual human rights violations so that the occurrence or likelihood of adverse impacts may be reported without fear of retaliation. Supplier shall demonstrate that the OLGM is functioning by providing [monthly] [quarterly] [semi-annual] written reports to Buyer on the OLGM’s activities, describing, at a minimum, the number of grievances received and processed over the reporting period, documentary evidence of consultations with affected stakeholders, and all actions taken to address such grievances.
  • 2 Remediating Adverse Human Rights Impacts Linked to Contractual Activity.
    • 2.1 Notice of Potential or Actual Violations.
      • (a) Within _____days of (i) Supplier having reason to believe there is any potential or actual violation of Schedule P (a “Schedule P Breach”), or (ii) Buyer’s receipt of any oral or written notice of any potential or actual Schedule P Breach, Supplier shall provide to Buyer a detailed summary of (1) the factual circumstances surrounding such violation; (2) the specific provisions of Schedule P implicated; (3) the investigation and remediation that has been conducted and/or that is planned as informed by implementation of the OLGM process set forth in Section 1.4; and (4) support for Supplier’s determination that the investigation and remediation has been or will be effective, adequate, and proportionate to the violation.
      • (b) If Supplier reasonably believes that Buyer’s breach of Buyer’s obligations under Section 1.3 caused or contributed to the Schedule P Breach and that remediation of the Schedule P Breach requires Buyer’s participation under Section 2.3(e), Supplier shall notify Buyer and provide details supporting its claim. If Buyer rejects Supplier’s allegation, Buyer shall provide Supplier with its written explanation rejecting Supplier’s position. In such case, the Dispute (hereinafter defined) shall be resolved under Article 8.
      • (c) Supplier hereby designates (name) (title) at (email address) and Buyer designates (name) (title) at (email address) to send/receive all notices provided under this Section 2.1 [and in addition notices shall be given as specified in Section ____ for general notices under this Agreement].
    • 2.2 Investigation.
      • (a) Upon receipt of a notice under Section 2.1, Buyer and Supplier shall fully cooperate with any investigation by the other party or their representatives. Without limitation, such cooperation shall include, upon request of a party, working with governmental authorities to enable both Supplier and Buyer or their agents to enter the country, to be issued appropriate visas, and to investigate fully.
      • (b) Each party shall provide the other with a report on the results of any investigation carried out under this Section; provided that any such cooperation in the investigation does not require Buyer or Supplier to waive attorney-client privilege, nor does it limit the defenses Supplier or Buyer may raise.
    • 2.3 Remediation Plan.
      • (a) If Buyer becomes aware of a Schedule P Breach that has not been effectively remediated, Buyer shall, in collaboration with Supplier’s other buyers where legally appropriate, require Supplier to prepare a remediation plan (a “Remediation Plan”).
      • (b) The purpose of the Remediation Plan shall be to restore, to the extent commercially practical, the affected persons to the situation they would have been in had the adverse human rights impacts not occurred. [The Remediation Plan shall enable remediation that is proportionate to the adverse impact and may include apologies, restitution, rehabilitation, financial and non-financial compensation, as well as prevention of additional adverse impacts resulting from future Schedule P violations.]
      • (c) The Remediation Plan shall include a timeline and objective milestones for remediation, including objective standards for determining when such remediation is completed and the breach cured. Supplier shall demonstrate to Buyer that affected stakeholders and/or their representatives [and/or a third party acting on behalf of such stakeholders] have participated in the development of the Remediation Plan. [The Remediation Plan may contemplate recourse to the dispute resolution mechanisms set forth in Article 8, as appropriate.]
      • (d) Supplier shall provide [reasonably satisfactory] evidence to Buyer of the implementation of the Remediation Plan and shall demonstrate that participating affected stakeholders and/or their representatives are being regularly consulted. Before the Remediation Plan can be deemed fully implemented, evidence shall be provided to show that affected stakeholders and/or their representatives have participated in determining that the Remediation Plan has met the standards developed under this Section.
      • (e) If Buyer’s breach of Section 1.3 has caused or contributed to the Schedule P Breach or the resulting adverse human rights impact, Buyer shall participate in the preparation and implementation of the Remediation Plan, including by providing assistance [which may include in-kind contributions, capacity-building and technical or financial assistance] that is proportionate to Buyer’s contribution to the Schedule P Breach and the resulting adverse impact.
      • (f ) A Remediation Plan under this Article 2 or under Section 1.1(d) shall be a fully binding part of this Agreement.
    • 2.4 Right to Cure.
      • (a) In the event of a breach by Supplier of its obligations under Schedule P, Buyer shall give notice under Section 2.1(a), which shall trigger a [commercially reasonable] cure period [as set forth under this Agreement] [as agreed by the mutual written agreement of the parties (each acting in good faith and in a commercially reasonable manner)]. Such breach shall be considered cured when Supplier has met the standards set out in Sections 1.4 and 2.3.
      • (b) If such breach is not cured within the period designated under Section 2.4(a), or is incapable of being cured, Buyer may [cancel] [avoid] this Agreement under Section 6.2(e) and, with or without such [cancellation] [avoidance], may exercise any of its remedies under Article 6 or applicable law.
    • 2.5 Right to Immediate Termination. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Agreement, this Agreement may be immediately [canceled] [avoided] by Buyer under Section 6.2(e), without providing a cure period, if Supplier has engaged in a Zero Tolerance Activity. A “Zero Tolerance Activity” shall be any of the following activities if they were not disclosed promptly by Supplier to Buyer during due diligence under Section 1.1: (a) activities that would cause Buyer to be the subject of prosecution or sanction under civil or commercial laws whether national, regional or international; (b) activities that would expose Buyer to criminal liability; (c) activities prohibited by the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (as amended); (d) instances where it becomes apparent that Supplier cannot, in the absence of assistance from Buyer under Section 1.3(b), perform this Agreement without material or repeated violation of Schedule P; and (e) others specified in Schedule P. Such termination shall be effectuated in compliance with Section 1.3(f ) on responsible exit.
  • 3 Rejection of Goods and [Cancellation] [Avoidance] of Agreement.
    • 3.1 [Strict Compliance. It is a material term of this Agreement that Buyer, Supplier, and Representatives shall engage in due diligence in accordance with Sections 1.1 and 1.2 so as to ensure compliance with Schedule P.]
    • 3.2 Rejection of Nonconforming Goods. In the event of a Schedule P Breach by Supplier that renders the Goods Nonconforming Goods, Buyer shall have the right to reject them unless Buyer’s breach of its obligations under Section 1.3 [and/or Schedule Q] materially caused or contributed to the Schedule P Breach. Goods are Nonconforming Goods if the Buyer cannot resell them in the ordinary course of business or if the goods cannot pass without objection in trade or if the Goods are associated with a Zero Tolerance Activity.
    • 3.3 [Cancellation.] [Avoidance.] The following shall be deemed to [substantially impair the value of this Agreement to Buyer] [constitute a fundamental breach of the entire Agreement] and Buyer may [cancel] [avoid] this entire Agreement with immediate effect and without penalty and/or may exercise its right to indemnification and all other remedies: (a) a breach by Supplier of Schedule P that relates to a Zero Tolerance Activity, or (b) Supplier’s failure to timely complete its obligations under a Remediation Plan. Buyer shall have no liability to Supplier for such [cancellation] [avoidance] but shall employ commercially reasonable efforts to comply with Section 1.3(f ).
    • 3.4 Timely Notice. Notwithstanding any provision of this Agreement or applicable law (including without limitation [the Inspection Period in Section ____ of this Agreement and] [Articles 38 to 40 of the CISG] [and U.C.C. §§ 2-607 and 2-608]), Buyer’s rejection of any Goods as a result of noncompliance with Schedule P shall be deemed timely if Buyer gives notice to Supplier within a reasonable time after Buyer’s discovery of same.
  • 4 [Revocation of Acceptance.
    • 4.1 Notice of Buyer’s Discovery. Buyer may revoke its acceptance, in whole or in part, upon notice sent [in accordance with Section ___] of Buyer’s discovery that the Goods are Nonconforming Goods unless Buyer’s breach of its obligations under Section 1.3 materially caused or contributed to the Schedule P Breach. Such notice shall specify the nonconformity or nonconformities that Buyer has discovered at that point, without prejudice to Buyer’s right to specify nonconformities that it discovers later.
    • 4.2 Same Rights and Duties as Rejection. [Upon revocation of acceptance, Buyer shall have the same rights and duties as if it had rejected the Goods before acceptance.]
    • 4.3 Timeliness. Notwithstanding any provision of this Agreement (including without limitation [the Inspection Period in Section ____ of this Agreement and] U.C.C. § 2-608), Buyer’s revocation of acceptance of any Goods under this Article 4 shall be deemed timely if Buyer gives notice to Supplier within a reasonable time after Buyer’s discovery of same.]
  • 5 Nonvariation of Matters Related to Schedule P.
    • 5.1 Course of Performance, Established Practices, and Customs. Course of performance and course of dealing (including, without limitation, any failure by Buyer to effectively exercise any audit rights) shall not be construed as a waiver and shall not be a factor in Buyer’s right to reject Nonconforming Goods, [cancel] [avoid] this Agreement, or exercise any other remedy. Supplier acknowledges that with respect to the matters in Schedule P, any reliance by Supplier on course of performance, course of dealing, or similar conduct would be unreasonable. Supplier acknowledges the fundamental importance to Buyer of the matters in Schedule P and understands that no usage or practice established between the parties should be understood otherwise, and any apparent conduct or statement to the contrary should not be relied upon.
    • 5.2 No Waiver of Remedy. Buyer’s acceptance of any Goods in whole or in part will not be deemed a waiver of any right or remedy nor will it otherwise limit Supplier’s obligations, including, without limitation, those obligations with respect to indemnification.
  • 6 Buyer Remedies.
    • 6.1 Breach and Notice of Breach. Upon breach by Supplier, Buyer may exercise remedies to the extent provided in this Article 6. Prior to the exercise of any remedies pursuant to Section 6.2, Buyer shall notify Supplier in accordance with Section 2.1. Such notice, if with respect to an actual violation, constitutes notice of default under this Agreement.
    • 6.2 Exercise of Remedies. Remedies shall be cumulative. Remedies shall not be exclusive of, and shall be without prejudice to, any other remedies provided hereunder or at law or in equity. Buyer’s exercise of remedies and the timing thereof shall not be construed in any circumstance as constituting a waiver of its rights under this Agreement. Buyer’s remedies include, without limitation:
      • (a) Demanding adequate assurances from Supplier of due performance in conformity with Schedule P [after Buyer makes similar assurances to Supplier of its due performance under Section 1.3 [and/or Schedule Q]].
      • (b) Obtaining an injunction with respect to Supplier’s noncompliance with Schedule P (in which case, the parties represent to each other and agree that noncompliance with Schedule P causes Buyer great and irreparable harm for which Buyer has no adequate remedy at law and that the public interest would be served by injunctive and other equitable relief ).
      • (c) Requiring Supplier to terminate an agreement or affiliation with a specific factory, terminate a subcontract or remove an employee or employees and/or other Representatives.
      • (d) Suspending payments, whether under this Agreement or other agreements, until Buyer determines, in Buyer’s reasonable discretion, that Supplier has taken appropriate remedial action following the expiration of the cure period indicated in Section 2.4(a).
      • (e) [Avoiding] [Canceling] this Agreement if permitted by Sections 2.4(b), 2.5, or 3.3.
      • (f ) Obtaining damages, including all direct and consequential damages caused by the breach; provided, however, that damages shall be reduced proportionately to the degree that Buyer’s breach of Section 1.3 [and/or Schedule Q] caused or contributed to Supplier’s breach of Schedule P.
    • 6.3 Damages. Buyer and Supplier acknowledge:
      • (a) Neither Buyer nor Supplier should benefit from a Schedule P violation or any human rights violation occurring in relation to this Agreement. If damages are owed that would result in a benefit to Buyer or Supplier, such amounts should go toward supporting the remediation processes set out in Section 1.4 and Article 2. A “benefit” is here understood to mean being put in a better position than if this Agreement had been performed without a Schedule P Breach. Nothing herein limits the right of a party to be put in the position it would have been in had this Agreement been performed without a Schedule P Breach.
      • (b) [If there are insufficient funds to pay damages and complete the remediation processes set out in Section 1.4 and Article 2, remediation shall take priority.]
      • (c) [It may be difficult for the parties to fix damages for injury to business, prospects, and reputation with respect to Nonconforming Goods produced in violation of Schedule P, and in such case, liquidated damages must be paid by Supplier to Buyer as follows: [insert amount or formula for calculation.]]
    • 6.4 Return, Destruction or Donation of Goods; Nonacceptance of Goods.
      • (a) Buyer may, in its sole discretion, store the rejected Nonconforming Goods for Supplier’s account, ship them back to Supplier or export them or, if permitted under applicable law, destroy or donate the Nonconforming Goods, all at Supplier’s sole cost, expense, and risk, except to the extent that Buyer has caused or contributed to the nonconformity by breach of Section 1.3 [and/or Schedule Q].
      • (b) Buyer is under no duty to resell any Nonconforming Goods produced by or associated with Supplier or its Representative who Buyer has reasonable grounds to believe has not complied with Schedule P, whether or not such noncompliance was involved in the production of the specific Nonconforming Goods. Buyer is entitled to discard, destroy, export or donate any such Nonconforming Goods. Notwithstanding anything contained herein to the contrary or instructions otherwise provided by Supplier, destruction or donation of Nonconforming Goods rejected [or as to which acceptance was revoked], and any conduct by Buyer required by law that would otherwise constitute acceptance, shall not be deemed acceptance and will not trigger a duty to pay for such Nonconforming Goods. Buyer and Supplier represent and agree that this Section and any related Sections are an effort to mitigate damages, as selling, profiting from, and being associated with tainted goods or Nonconforming Goods is likely to be damaging to Buyer, including to Buyer’s reputation.
    • 6.5 Indemnification; Comparative Fault Calculation.
      • (a) Supplier shall indemnify, defend and hold harmless Buyer and its officers, directors, employees, agents, affiliates, successors and assigns (collectively, “Indemnified Party”) against any and all losses, damages, liabilities, deficiencies, claims, actions, judgments, settlements, interest, penalties, fines, costs or expenses of whatever kind, including, without limitation, the cost of storage, return, export or destruction of Goods, the difference in cost between Buyer’s purchase of Supplier’s Goods and replacement Goods, reasonable attorneys’ fees, audit fees that would not have been incurred but for Supplier’s Schedule P Breach, and the costs of enforcing any right under this Agreement or applicable law, in each case, that arise out of the violation of Schedule P by Supplier or any of its Representatives. This Section shall apply, without limitation, regardless of whether claimants are contractual counterparties, investors, or any other person, entity, or governmental unit whatsoever.
      • (b) Notwithstanding Section 6.5(a), Supplier’s obligation to indemnify Buyer shall be reduced proportionately to the degree that Buyer’s breach of Section 1.3 [and/or Schedule Q] caused or contributed to Supplier’s breach of Schedule P; in other words, for the avoidance of doubt, damages shall be borne by Buyer directly to the extent Buyer has materially caused or contributed to the breach of Schedule P.
  • 7 Disclaimers.
    • 7.1 Negation of Buyer’s Contractual Duties Except as Stated. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Agreement:
      • (a) Buyer does not assume a duty under this Agreement to monitor Supplier or its Representatives, including, without limitation, for compliance with laws or standards regarding working conditions, pay, hours, discrimination, forced labor, child labor, or the like, except as stated in Articles 1 and 2.
      • (b) Buyer does not assume a duty under this Agreement to monitor or inspect the safety of any workplace of Supplier or its Representatives nor to monitor any labor practices of Supplier or its Representatives, except as stated in Articles 1 and 2.
      • (c) Buyer does not have the authority and disclaims any obligation to control (i) the manner and method of work done by Supplier or its Representatives, (ii) implementation of safety measures by Supplier or its Representatives, or (iii) employment or engagement of employees and contractors or subcontractors by Supplier or its Representatives. The efforts contemplated by this Agreement do not constitute any authority or obligation of control. They are efforts at cooperation that leave Buyer and Supplier each responsible for its own policies, decisions, and operations. Buyer and Supplier and Representatives remain independent and are independent contractors. Nor are they joint employers, and they should not be considered as such.
      • (d) Buyer assumes no duty to disclose the results of any audit, questionnaire, or information gained pursuant to this Agreement other than as required by applicable law, except to the extent Buyer must disclose information to Supplier as expressly provided in this Agreement.
    • 7.2 Third-Party Beneficiaries. [All buyers and suppliers in the supply chain have the right to enforce the relevant provisions relating to the human rights protections set forth herein and in Schedule P [and Schedule Q] and privity of contract is hereby waived as a defense by Buyer and Supplier provided, however, that there are otherwise no third-party beneficiaries to this Agreement. Individuals or entities, including but not limited to associations, workers, land owners, property owners, those residing, working and/or recreating in proximity to supply chain activities and any individual who is injured or suffers damages due to a violation of human rights have no rights, claims, causes of action or entitlements against Buyer or Supplier arising out of or relating to this Agreement, Schedule P, [Schedule Q] or any provision hereunder.] [There are no third-party beneficiaries to this Agreement].
  • 8 Dispute Resolution.
    • 8.1 Dispute Resolution Procedures. The parties agree that the procedures set forth in this Article shall be the sole and exclusive remedy in connection with any dispute arising in whole or in part from or relating to Articles 1 through 7 or Schedule P [or Schedule Q], whether such dispute involves Buyer, Supplier, or a Representative (a “Dispute”). Buyer and Supplier irrevocably waive any right to commence any action in or before any court or governmental authority, except as expressly provided in this Article 8. Notwithstanding anything contained herein to the contrary, however, at any point in the proceedings under this Article 8, the parties may agree to engage the services of a neutral facilitator to assist in resolving any Dispute.
    • 8.2 [Confidentiality. All documents and information concerning the Dispute, including all submissions of the parties, all evidence submitted in connection with any proceedings, all transcripts or other recordings of hearings, all orders, decisions and awards of the arbitral tribunal and any documents produced as a result of any informal resolution of a dispute, shall be confidential, except with the consent of both parties or where, and to the extent, disclosure is required of a party (a) by legal duty, (b) to protect or pursue a legal right, or (c) in relation to legal proceedings before a court or other competent authority.]
    • 8.3 Joinder of Multiple Parties. If one or more other disputes arise between or among parties to other contracts that are sufficiently related to the same or similar actual or threatened human rights violations, the parties shall use their best efforts to consolidate any such related disputes for resolution under this Article 8.
    • 8.4 Informal Good Faith Negotiations Up the Line. The parties shall try to settle their Dispute amicably between themselves by good faith negotiations, initially in the normal course of business at the operational level. If a Dispute is not resolved at the operational level, the parties shall attempt in good faith to resolve the Dispute by negotiation between executives who hold, at a minimum, the office(s) of [TITLE(S)]. Either party may initiate the executive negotiation process at any time and from time to time by providing notice [in accordance with Section 2.1(c)] (the “Dispute Notice”). Within no more than five (5) days after the Dispute Notice has been given, the receiving party shall submit to the other a written response (the “Response”). The Dispute Notice and the Response shall include (a) a statement of the Dispute, together with a recital of the alleged underlying facts, and of the respective parties’ positions and (b) the name and title of the executive who will represent that party and of any other person who will accompany the executive. The parties agree that such executives shall have full and complete authority to resolve the Dispute. All reasonable requests for information made by one party to the other will be honored. If such executives do not resolve such dispute within [twenty (20)] days of receipt of the Dispute Notice for any reason, the parties shall have an additional [ten (10)] days thereafter to reach agreement as to whether to seek to resolve the Dispute through mediation under Section 8.5.
    • 8.5 Mediation. If the parties do not resolve any Dispute within the periods specified in Section 8.4, either party may, by notice given in accordance with Section 2.1(c) (the “Mediation Notice”), invite the other to resolve the Dispute under the [insert name of rules] as in effect on the date of this Agreement (the “Mediation Rules”). The language to be used in the mediation shall be [language]. If such invitation is accepted, a single mediator shall be chosen by the Parties. If, within [______] days following the delivery of the Mediation Notice, the invitation to mediate is not accepted, the parties shall resolve the Dispute through [arbitration][litigation] under Section 8.6. [If the parties are unable to agree upon the appointment of a mediator, then one shall be appointed by the [insert title of official at the named institution].]
    • 8.6 [In this clause, companies choose between arbitration (Alternative A) and litigation (Alternative B).] [Arbitration] [Litigation]. If and only if the parties (a) have chosen not to make use of Mediation under Section 8.5 to resolve the Dispute, or (b) have not, within [____] days following the delivery of the Dispute Notice, resolved the Dispute using such Mediation, then the Dispute shall be settled
    • [Alternative A for arbitration.] [by arbitration in accordance with the [name of rules of the arbitration institution] (the “Arbitration Rules”) in effect on the date of this Agreement. The number of arbitrators shall be [one] [three]. The seat of arbitration shall be [seat] and the place shall be [place]. The language of the proceedings shall be [language]. [The provisions for expedited procedures contained in [section or article] of the Arbitration Rules shall apply irrespective of the amount in dispute. The parties further agree that following the commencement of arbitration, they will continue to attempt in good faith to reach a negotiated resolution of the Dispute.]
    • [Alternative B for litigation.] [in accordance with ____ [here refer to the choice of forum and related clauses of the main supply contract]. Notwithstanding the commencement of litigation, if the parties are subsequently able to resolve the Dispute through negotiations or mediation, any resultant resolution may be made a consent judgment on agreed terms.]
    • 8.7 [Only for use with Alternative A for arbitration.] [Emergency Measures. Notwithstanding any provision of this Agreement or any applicable institutional rules, any party may obtain emergency measures at any time to address a Zero Tolerance Activity or any other imminent threat to health, safety, or physical liberty (including without limitation the holding of workers in locked barracks or the unavailability of accessible and unlocked emergency exits). In addition, a party may make an application for emergency relief to the [name of institution] (the “Arbitration Institution”) for emergency measures under the arbitration rules of the Arbitration Institution as in effect on the date of this Agreement. If and only if the arbitral tribunal does not have the power to grant effective emergency measures or other specific relief may a party apply for relief to a court of competent jurisdiction that possesses the power to grant effective emergency measures.]
    • 8.8 [Only for use with Alternative A for arbitration.] [Arbitration Award. The arbitrator(s) may grant any remedy or relief set forth in Article 6 or elsewhere in this Agreement that a court of competent jurisdiction could grant, except that the arbitrators may not grant any relief or remedy greater than that sought by the parties, nor any punitive damages. The award shall include compliance with a Remediation Plan as contemplated by Article 2 above. [The arbitration tribunal shall send a copy of each final order, decision and award to [title of official and name of institution] so that the public may have access to such documents, provided that, prior to sending any such document to such repository, such arbitration tribunal, in consultation with each of the parties, shall redact any information from such document that (a) would reveal the identity of any party that wishes to remain anonymous; or (b) disclose any other information (including without limitation the amount of any award, any proprietary information or any trade secrets) that a party wishes to remain confidential.]]

Schedule P Building Blocks

The development of an enterprise-wide culture to address human rights violations in the workplace is essential. These violations include not only modern slavery and child labor but also recruitment fees, confiscation of travel documents, travel permits, or room and board fees, insufficient pay, harassment, brutal hourly demands, restrictions on freedom of association, toxic exposure on the job site, and dangerous facility conditions. Only such a pervasive culture can identify the risks of a company’s involvement in potential human rights harms that could violate both current and emerging global regulations. A generalized reference in Schedule P to observance by the supplier of all international human rights or a boilerplate reference to supplier codes cannot yield an effective tool to identify and manage the appropriate response to very real and ongoing threats to human rights given “salient risks” within a supply chain.


The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (“UNGPs”) were unanimously adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (“OECD MNE Guidelines”) were revised to include a new human rights chapter that was consistent with the UNGPs that same year. Since 2011, the UNGPs and the OECD MNE Guidelines have enjoyed ever-growing recognition in the international business community across sectors as documents that define responsible business conduct (“RBC”), notwithstanding characterization as voluntary standards and therefore “soft law.”

The UNGPs consist of thirty-one principles grounded in recognition of the following three pillars: (1) states’ existing obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights and fundamental freedoms (UNGPs 1–10); (2) the role of business enterprises as specialized organs of society performing specialized functions, required to comply with all applicable laws and to respect human rights (UNGPs 11–24); and (3) the need to match rights and obligations to appropriate and effective remedies (UNGPs 25–31).

Schedule P must focus on the second of the three mutually supporting pillars of the “Protect, Respect, and Remedy” framework from the UNGPs: corporate responsibility to respect human rights. The UNGPs insist that corporate responsibility to respect human rights is a global standard of expected conduct for all business enterprises wherever they operate and independently of any states’ abilities and/or willingness to fulfill their own human rights obligations. The UNGPs further explain that such corporate responsibility also exists over and above compliance with national laws and regulations. To protect human rights and address adverse human rights impacts, companies must take adequate measures for the prevention, mitigation, and, where appropriate, remediation of adverse impacts. Businesses are expected to (1) publicize a high-level commitment to respect human rights and embed it in the organization; (2) conduct human rights due diligence (“HRDD”); and (3) remedy harm that it caused or contributed to through a business relationship or through its own actions in tandem with another actor or harm linked to its operations, products, or services.

To comply with the UNGPs, a company must conduct due diligence to measure its human rights impacts according to substantive human rights benchmarks expressed in the International Bill of Human Rights (“IBHR”) and International Labour Organization (“ILO”) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

Identifying a need to promote a common understanding of the meaning and scope of due diligence for RBC, the OECD developed OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct (“Guidance”) in 2018 to provide practical support to enterprises on implementation of the OECD Guidelines, with explanations of its due diligence recommendations. The Guidance seeks to align with the UNGPs, the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the ILO Conventions and Recommendations referenced with the OECD MNE Guidelines, and the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy. Note that the OECD has also developed sector-specific due diligence guidance for the minerals, agriculture, and garment and footwear supply chains and good practice papers for the extractives and financial sectors.

The Guidance explains that enterprises should carry out due diligence to identify, prevent, mitigate, and account for how they address actual and potential adverse impacts in their own operations, their supply chain, and other business relationships as recommended in the OECD MNE Guidelines. Effective HRDD should, per the Guidance, be supported by efforts to embed RBC into policies and management systems to enable enterprises to remediate adverse impacts that they cause or to which they contribute. HRDD is an ongoing process that should commence prior to contracting and must continue during the life cycle of the contract, including its end. It should be designed to assess and govern a business enterprise’s impact on human rights and not the impact of human rights on a business enterprise. After properly diagnosing risks, ongoing HRDD should ensure that corporate responses are fit to context and provide individuals with the type of support they need, actually mitigating and preventing further harm and producing positive human rights outcomes.

Schedule P should refer specifically to the salient risks that the business discovers in its supply chain after extensive HRDD, including not only the possibility of modern slavery and child labor but also, for example, environmental catastrophe, violence from company security forces, compromised workplace safety, or discrimination and harassment. Schedule P should be as clear as possible when defining salient risks within the supply chain.

Such clarity is not possible without comprehensive HRDD. Due diligence is mandatory in some European countries, and many other countries are now considering similar bills. On April 29, 2020, the European Commissioner of Justice, Didier Reynders, announced that the European Union would propose new mandatory HRDD legislation. Whether that legislation or regulations promulgated under it will identify specific HRDD acts or a safe harbor process is yet to be seen.

The ETI Base Code, founded on ILO conventions and used widely across sectors, is an “internationally recognized code of good labor practice . . . used as a benchmark against which to conduct social audits and develop ethical trade action plans.” “The provisions of the Base Code constitute minimum and not maximum standards” but nevertheless include nine categories, as follows: “1. Employment is freely chosen [i.e., no forced labor]; 2. Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are respected; 3. Working conditions are safe and hygienic; 4. Child labor shall not be used; 5. Living wages are paid; 6. Working hours are not excessive; 7. No discrimination is practiced; 8. Regular employment is provided; and 9. No harsh or inhumane treatment is allowed.” Some codes expand on these categories to include community-wide impact, environmental issues, and land rights. SMETA is an audit methodology providing a compilation of what are recognized as practical and ethical techniques. It includes a rating system for the severity of non-compliance when evaluating any one of the nine categories above, from “[b]usiness critical non-compliance” being the most severe to “[c]ritical non-compliance,” “[m]ajor non-compliance,” or “[m]inor non-compliance,” the last-named being the least severe. The corresponding timescales for remediation range from zero to ninety days, with “business critical issues” requiring an immediate response (i.e., zero days) to correct the issue. Once a customer begins or takes corrective action, an auditor verifies the adequacy of the business’s actions either remotely or onsite. SMETA should be used to supplement a business’s systems, as it is not “intended as a standalone document.”

Almost all codes adopt a similar approach, with varying emphasis and different levels of tolerance for certain non-compliances. The drafters of a company’s Schedule P could use the ETI Base Code and SMETA audit framework as a starting point to identify and map risks determined in the company’s essential, precontract due diligence. Schedule P should define what the buyer and supplier agreed will constitute important terms, such as “severity,” “salient risks,” and “child labor.” Schedule P also should include a process for handling discovered non-compliances that prioritizes attention to salient risks and expects buyer and/or supplier to respond based on their level of involvement depending on findings of “cause,” “contribution,” and “linkage.” A finding of “cause” should trigger a need to fix, remedy, and prevent, while a finding of “contribution” triggers a need to fix, remedy, and prevent through leverage and possible contract suspension and even termination. A finding of “linkage” should trigger efforts to prevent through leverage and possible contract suspension or termination.

Moving Beyond Abstract to the Concrete

The contents of each company’s Schedule P policy statement will vary depending on the parties, the contract, and the salient risks at different tiers of the chain. Schedule P should be the result of extensive, ongoing HRDD. UN Guiding Principles 17 through 21 enumerate the due diligence process: (1) identify risks of harm to people and their environment; (2) respond to risk in an integrated fashion (which varies according to the mode of involvement; that is, cause, contribution, or linkage); (3) monitor and track performance; and (4) disclose risks and impacts to affected stakeholders. This same process can be broken down to include: (a) risk mapping; (b) regular assessment; (c) actions to mitigate; (d) alert mechanisms; and (e) monitoring and evaluating for specific issues and possible routes to address those issues. For example, there may be pollution of drinking water at one tier, security force violence at a second tier, and dangerous working conditions at a third. Boilerplate text to cover all potential risks will not result in the parties’ clear understanding of what needs to be done and may be useful only to identify a breach rather than guide conduct. Schedule P should not consist solely of a list of possible internationally recognized human rights that the supplier reviews and checks off as an assurance of current and ongoing compliance without true investigation. Rather, it should specify in practical and concrete terms the types of conduct by the parties that would constitute human rights abuse and identify which abuses justify suspension or even termination of the contract. Schedule P must also acknowledge the potential existence of other risks or abuses in the supply chain identified later or inadequately during the initial due diligence processes that may have to be addressed with a response other than, or including, suspension or termination. Sector- and conduct-specific multi-stakeholder human rights standards, such as the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and the Fair Labor Association’s revised Principles of Fair Labor and Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High Risk Areas, as supplemented, might be incorporated or referenced where appropriate. A meaningful Schedule P is the result of extensive and ongoing due diligence and a history of dialogue between buyer and supplier that establishes clear and enforceable standards preserved in a written and understood action plan.

Critical Components of a Compliance Program

At a minimum, the content of a Schedule P, which is consistent with international standards, should:

  1. specify and define clearly the salient human rights risks that the parties have identified in HRDD, the manifestation of which will constitute a breach of Schedule P, leaving flexibility for salient risks that were missed in any precontract HRDD;
  2. specify relevant statutes and regulations that the parties and all subcontractors or other agents are expected to comply with during the course of the contract or other relationship;
  3. specify the parties’ internal codes that all those in the supply chain are expected to know and honor;
  4. specify any multi-stakeholder standards that are relevant; and
  5. specify any relevant auditing protocols.

For companies looking for a more comprehensive list of Schedule P building blocks, a number of concrete tools are available to assist a company in designing an effective Schedule P statement that articulates its human rights policies. Schedule P should address precontract due diligence at length, and a concrete remediation plan should be derived therefrom. This seems logical: buyer and supplier should both be reluctant to enter into agreements without knowing in advance whether they might, and how they might, address hypothetical, let alone known, existing problems. Hence, Schedule P is expected to lead to some form of “remediation plan” that exists at the outset or that the parties agree to develop soon after signing. This plan would articulate long-term goals (on a prioritized basis) and interim steps that each party will take, either alone or in conjunction with others, as well as dates for achieving these steps and reporting and monitoring requirements.

One highly useful practical tool is the 2016 report, Doing Business with Respect for Human Rights: A Guidance Tool for Companies, a collaboration between the Global Compact Network Netherlands, Oxfam, and Shift. The report provides practical guidance on how a company can set the overall tone on human rights through its policy commitments, how it can embed those commitments into the company’s DNA, how it can move from reactively to proactively assessing its impacts, how it can integrate its human rights policy into its interactions with business partners and act in response to discovered human rights risks, how it can evaluate its successes and failures, how it can make the stated commitments meaningful by engaging with stakeholders, and how to respond promptly and effectively to solve human rights problems. Appendix B to the report provides a detailed summary of what should go into a policy commitment, including types of general and specific statements, implementation processes, and who is responsible for implementation, evaluation, and updates to the policy.

Another widely used resource is the 2017 UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework, a collaboration between the Shift Project and international accounting firm, Mazars LLP. It consists of a short list of targeted questions designed to increase internal and external understanding of a company’s human rights policies and practices by assessing the quality of how the company identifies and manages each of its salient human rights risks.

To be effective, the human rights expectations of Buyer in the Model Clauses have to be articulated and then enforced at every level of the supply chain. Supplier, as well as every lower tier supplier, must certify that it is fully familiar with all of the terms of the agreed upon Schedule P and the conditions under which the services are to be performed. Each tier supplier must enter into its agreement based on its own ongoing investigation of all human rights matters within the scope of its operations and cannot rely on the opinions or representations of other suppliers. Schedule P must, therefore, include a “perpetual clause” such that each supplier binds its lower tier supplier(s) to all of the performance obligations and responsibilities that Supplier assumes toward Buyer under Schedule P.

In this manner, Schedule P would be incorporated into every subsequent agreement or arrangement in the supply chain, insofar as it relates in any way, directly or indirectly, to the services or products in the chain. Each supplier agrees to be bound to the supplier that engaged its services in the same manner and to the same extent as the Supplier who contracted with Buyer in the master agreement. Where, in Schedule P and the Model Clauses, reference is made to Supplier and the work or specifications pertain to Supplier’s trade, craft, or type of work, such work or specifications shall be primarily interpreted to apply to the next tier supplier. To be precise, there would be a general reference to a requirement, say, for example, no forced labor, and a more specific section prohibiting the use of conflict minerals in a contract for electronics or, in a contract for garments, no cotton from particular named places.

It is the Working Group’s intention that Supplier shall have the benefit of all rights, remedies, and redress against a subsequent tier supplier that Buyer has against Supplier under the prime contract, and each lower tier supplier shall have the benefit of all rights, remedies, and redress against Supplier that Supplier has against Buyer under the prime contract, subject to the restrictions and limitations of the Model Clauses and only insofar as any of the foregoing is applicable to Schedule P. If deemed desirable and appropriate, both Schedule P and the Model Clauses can make it clear that Buyer has the direct right to claim a human rights breach by a supplier within the chain below the Supplier that is a party to the master agreement and that Supplier and each lower tier supplier has the same right in its role as a lower tier buyer vis-à-vis the lower tier supplier.

Even if Schedule P goes beyond traditional privity and applies up and down the chain, many insist that there is little likely enforcement of the Model Clauses or Schedule P that effectively addresses human rights representations without the inclusion of impacted stakeholders. “Next Generation Supplier Codes,” a phrase adopted by the Corporate Accountability Lab, include provisions and enforcement mechanisms that:

  • allow workers, survivors of deceased workers, land owners and impacted community members to enforce Schedule P [or Schedule Q], that is, provide third-party beneficiary language, and grant these third-party beneficiaries the ability to assign their rights to a labor union, nongovernmental organization, or other organizations providing legal assistance;
  • require notification and education of workers with respect to their rights;
  • require the supplier to disclose all its production factories so that the buyer may access and facilitate compliance monitoring; and
  • require the supplier to commit to refraining from retaliation against stakeholders who bring or consider bringing enforcement actions.

Sample third-party beneficiary clauses to be added to a buyer-supplier agreement can be found at Corporate Accountability Lab, “Towards Operationalizing Human Rights and Environmental Protection in Supply Chains: Worker-Enforceable Codes of Conduct” (Feb. 2021),

A. Organizational Standards

  1. UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (2011)
    1. Sponsor Organization: United Nations
    2. Link:
    3. Description: The UNGPs are the authoritative global standard on business and human rights, and resulted from a six-year process of multi-stakeholder consultations, research, and pilot projects, under the direction of their author, Harvard Kennedy School Professor John Ruggie, then the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Business and Human Rights (SRSG). The UNGPs rest on three interrelated pillars: “the state duty to protect human rights, the business responsibility to respect human rights, and the need for greater access to remedy for victims of business-related abuse.”
    4. Supplementary/Interpretive Documents:
      1. The Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights (2012) (
      2. The UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) drafted this document with the full approval of the SRSG, providing a comprehensive guide to the understanding and application of the second pillar of the UNGPs.
  2. OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (2011 edition)
    1. Sponsor Organization: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
    2. Link:
    3. Description: The OECD MNE Guidelines “provide non-binding principles and standards for responsible business conduct in a global context consistent with applicable standards.” They were revised in 2011 to substantially augment their human rights section, in order to align with the UNGPs. In doing so, the OECD imported virtually intact the HRDD process of the UNGPs. The OECD has continued to play an important role in providing concrete guidance to companies that do business in or with the OECD and resolves business and human rights disputes through its nonjudicial National Contact Process dispute resolution system.
    4. Supplementary/Interpretive Documents:
      1. OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct (2018) (
  3. Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (MNE Declaration) (1977, amended 2017)
    1. Sponsor Organization: International Labour Organization (ILO)
    2. Link:
    3. Description: The MNE Declaration is the ILO instrument influencing and guiding a number of international and regional organizations, national governments, and employers’ and workers’ organizations around the world. It provides direct guidance on social policy and inclusive, responsible, and sustainable workplace training and practices and includes international labor standards and principles addressing specific work issues relating to forced labor, transition from the informal to formal economy, wages, safety and health, access to remedy, and compensation of victims.
  4. ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (1998)
    1. Sponsor Organization: ILO
    2. Link: https://www.ilo/declaration/thedeclaration/textdeclaration/lang--en/index.htm
    3. Description: The ILO Declaration commits member states to respect and promote principles and rights in four categories, whether or not they have ratified the relevant Conventions. These categories are: “freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; the elimination of forced or compulsory labor; the abolition of child labor; and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.” Member states that have not ratified one or more of the core Conventions are asked each year to report on the status of the relevant rights and principles within their borders, noting impediments to ratification and areas where assistance may be required. These reports are used to create a compilation of baseline tables, by country, and periodic global reports relating to the promotion of the fundamental principles and rights at work.
    4. Supplementary/Interpretive Documents:
      1. ILO Indicators of Forced Labour (2012) (
  5. IRIS Standard (Version 1.1, 2019)
    1. Sponsor Organization: International Organization for Migration (IOM)
    2. Link:
    3. Description: The International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS) is the IOM’s global, multi-stakeholder initiative to promote ethical recruitment of migrant workers. IRIS is referred to under Objective 6 of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and other intergovernmental frameworks. The IRIS Standard articulates what ethical recruitment means in practice and how labor recruiters can demonstrate compliance. The IRIS Standard and corresponding guidelines serve as a reference point for labor recruiters, employers, and state actors on how to integrate ethical recruitment principles into recruitment-related management systems, policies, regulations, processes, and procedures. To achieve this integration, the IRIS Standard defines operational indicators against which labor recruiters can be measured to assess compliance.
  6. Human Rights Principles for Companies ( January 1998)
    1. Sponsor Organization: Amnesty International
    2. Link:
    3. Description: Amnesty International asserts that “the business community has a wide responsibility—moral and legal—to use its influence to promote respect for human rights. . . . [It] therefore developed an introductory set of human rights principles, based on international standards, to assist companies in developing their role in situations of human rights violations or the potential for such violations.” Its document deals with the responsibility multinational companies have to promote and protect human rights in their own operations.
    4. It recommends the development of explicit company policies, training, consulting nongovernmental organizations, and impact assessments. A checklist for use by companies forms part of the document.
  7. ISO 26000: Guidance Standard on Social Responsibility (2010)
    1. Sponsor Organization: International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
    2. Link:
    3. Description: ISO 26000:2010 is both an international consensus and guidance for assessing an organization’s commitment to sustainability and overall ESG performance. It is not a certification process “unlike some other well-known ISO standards. Instead, it helps clarify what social responsibility is, helps businesses and organizations translate principles into effective actions and shares best practices relating to social responsibility, globally. It is aimed at all types of organizations regardless of their activity, size or location.”
    4. Supplemental/Interpretive Documents:
      1. Communication Protocol—describes appropriate wordings organizations can use to communicate about their use of ISO 26000 (
        ISO 26000 basic training materials in the form of a PowerPoint and training protocol guidance (
      2. Documents that link ISO 26000 with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the United Nations 2030 Agenda (Sustainable Development Goals)
        1. ISO 26000 and OECD Guidelines—Practical Overview of the Linkages (
        2. ISO 26000 and SDGS (
  8. Doing Business with Respect for Human Rights: A Guidance Tool for Companies (2010, updated 2016)
    1. Sponsor Organization: Shift/Oxfam/Global Compact Network Netherlands
    2. Link:
    3. Description: This is a paper on how to apply business responsibility to respect human rights under the UNGPs in practice. It provides practical guidance on how to prevent and address human rights impacts for use by company staff in the “sustainability or CSR function” as well as “procurement, sales, legal, and public affairs or risk and in different areas of operation, including business units and country subsidiaries.”
  9. Blueprint for Embedding Human Rights in Key Company Functions (2016)
    1. Sponsor Organization: European Business Network for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR Europe)
    2. Link:
    3. Description: This blueprint by CSR Europe provides guidance for “embedding human rights across . . . [organizational functions].” Focusing predominantly on three key functions—human resources, risk management, and procurement. It provides examples of current practices taken by companies around each element and explains how these functions can contribute to the overall process of “effectively integrat[ing] human rights” into the corporate culture.
  10. Children’s Rights and Business Principles (2012)
    1. Sponsor Organization: UNICEF/Save the Children/UN Global Compact
    2. Link:
    3. Description: Children’s Rights and Business Principles articulate the difference between the responsibility of business to respect, that is, doing the minimum required to avoid infringing on children’s rights; and to support, that is, taking voluntary actions that seek to advance the realization of children’s rights. These Principles call on businesses to put in place appropriate policies and processes, as set out in the UNGPs, including a policy commitment and a due diligence process to address potential and actual impacts on human rights. The Principles identify a comprehensive range of actions that all businesses should take to prevent and address risks to child rights and “maximize positive business impacts” in the “workplace, the marketplace and the community.”
  11. FWF Code of Labor Practices (2016)
    1. Sponsor Organization: Fair Wear Foundation (FWF)
    2. Link:
    3. Description: The core of this Code is made up of eight labor standards derived from the ILO Conventions and the UN Declaration on Human Rights. The Code’s articulation of workers’ rights includes additional context for: (i) the limitation of working hours; (ii) the free choice of workplace; (iii) no exploitative child labor; (iv) no discrimination in employment; (v) a legally binding employment contract; (vi) safe and healthy working conditions; (vii) unrestricted freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining; and (viii) payment of a living wage.
  12. GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards (2016, updated 2020)
    1. Sponsor Organization: Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
    2. Link:
    3. Description: A flexible framework for creating standalone sustainability or non-financial reports, including ESG reports, which assist businesses, governments, and other organizations to understand and communicate their impacts on issues such as climate change, human rights, and corruption. Available as a free public good, “organizations can either use the GRI Standards to prepare a sustainability report in accordance with the Standards. Or they can use selected Standards, or parts of their content, to report information for specific users or purposes, such as reporting their climate change impacts for their investors and consumers.” Using reference to global standards of sustainability, the resultant report provides an inclusive picture of material topics, their related impacts, and how they are managed. There is a GRI Standards Report Registration System to register information reported using the GRI Standards.
    4. Supplementary/Interpretive Documents:
      1. Universal Standard (October 15, 2021), in effect from January 2023
      2. Oil and Gas Sector Standard 2021
  13. International Criminal Court (Rome) Statute, Article 7 (1998)
    1. Sponsor Organization: International Criminal Court (ICC)
    2. Link:
    3. Description: The Rome Statute is the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC). As of November 2019, 123 states are party to the statute, which, among other things, establishes the court's functions, jurisdiction, and structure. The Rome Statute established four core international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. Article 7 defines “crime against humanity” to include “enslavement,” “deportation or forcible transfer of population,” “imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law,” and “other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health,” “committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack.” “‘Enslavement’ means the exercise of any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership over a person and includes the exercise of such power in the course of trafficking in persons, in particular women and children.”
  14. The Essential Elements of MSI (Multi-Stakeholder Initiative) Design (2017)
    1. Sponsor Organization: Institute for Multi-Stakeholder Initiative Integrity
    2. Link:
    3. Description: This is a guide for how to craft a voluntary policy addressing business and human rights. It does not suggest specific areas of human rights to focus on or provide a framework for the topics that an initiative such as this should cover, but it does identify ideal qualities of the design and structure of such a policy. This guide is used by MSI Integrity to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a company’s initiative, but using an evaluation form such as this can provide guidance on how to write a comprehensive policy initiative for business and human rights.
  15. UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework (2015)
    1. Sponsor Organizations: Shift and Mazars
    2. Link:
    3. Description: The UNGPs Reporting Framework is a comprehensive reporting framework focused on the internal understanding and external reporting of a company’s human rights performance under the UNGPs. The Reporting Framework is a short series of questions to which any company should have answers, both to know whether it is doing business with respect for human rights and to show others the progress made. The Reporting Framework is supported by two kinds of guidance: implementation guidance for companies that are reporting, and assurance guidance for internal auditors and external assurance providers. It is used by over 150 major multinational publicly traded companies and is backed by governments, investor coalitions with approximately “$5.3 trillion assets under management,” investors, stock exchanges, law firms, and other reporting initiatives.
    4. Supplementary/Interpretive Documents:
      1. UNGPs Assurance Guidance (2017)
        The UNGPs Assurance Guidance is a “subject matter guidance that serves two purposes: one, to help internal auditors assure companies’ human rights performance, and two, to support external assurance providers’ assurance of companies’ human rights reporting.” (
  16. International Bar Association, Practical Guide on Business and Human Rights for Business Lawyers and the companion IBA Reference Annex to the Practical Guide on Business and Human Rights for Business Lawyers (2016)
    1. Sponsor Organization: International Bar Association
    2. Link:
    3. Description: The first comprehensive practical guide for implementing the UNGPs into the practice of law worldwide. It was drafted by a team of international legal experts, following nearly two years of research and consultation, and was endorsed by all of the nearly 200 international bar associations and law societies that comprise the IBA.

B. Examples of Companies with Human Rights Initiatives

  1. Adidas
  2. BHP Billiton
  3. H&M
  4. Kellogg’s
  5. Marks & Spencer
  6. Nestlé
  7. Patagonia
  8. Rio Tinto
  9. Total
  10. Unilever

C. Other Resources

  1. Alliance 8.7
    1. Alliance 8.7 is a global partnership, chaired by the ILO, which fosters multi-stakeholder collaboration to support governments in achieving target 8.7 of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals designed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 and part of UN Resolution 70/1, known as the “2030 Agenda.” It promotes (a) “accelerat[ed] action” “to eradi[cate] forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour”; (b) research, data collection, and knowledge sharing on prevalence and “what works”; and (c) “driving innovation and leveraging resources.” The Alliance works globally through four thematic Action Groups and a Communication Group and supports the national efforts of countries that have committed to accelerate action, organize national multi-stakeholder consultations, and set up respective time-bound action plans with measurable targets.
  2. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
    1. An independent, nonprofit global organization that provides resources and guidance for businesses “to advance human rights . . . and eradicate abuse.” Its website is in eight languages: English, Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. The Centre has regional researchers based in Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Kenya, Jordan, Mexico, Myanmar, Philippines, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, and the United States of America. It draws global attention to businesses’ human rights impacts (positive and negative), seeks responses from companies when civil society raises concerns, and establishes close contacts with grassroots NGOs, local businesspeople, and other stakeholders.
  3. Business for Social Responsibility
    1. BSR™ is a global nonprofit organization “that works with its . . . network of more than 250 member companies [and other partners] to build a just and sustainable world. From its offices in Asia, Europe, and North America, BSR™ develops sustainable business strategies and solutions through consulting, research, and cross-sector collaboration. It has developed several “collaborative [industry] initiatives, . . . including the Global Network Initiative and the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition, which [it] then spun off into independent institutions. More recently developed collaborative initiatives, including the Future of Fuels and the Future of Internet Power, and HERhealth and HERfinance, help companies across industries and sectors focus on cross-cutting issues like energy and women’s empowerment.” Environmental issues, particularly energy and climate, ecosystems services, and water, are a growing focus of its time and resources, fostering a “growing recognition at the highest level of business that sustainability is core to success.”
  4. Fair Labor Association
    1. The Fair Labor Association (FLA) is “a collaborative effort” of universities, civil society organizations, and socially responsible companies dedicated “to protecting workers’ rights around the world.” It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in China and Switzerland. “FLA places the onus on companies to voluntarily meet internationally recognized labor standards wherever their products are made.” It offers: (i) a “collaborative approach allowing civil society organizations, universities and socially responsible companies to sit at the same table and find effective solutions to labor issues”; (ii) “innovative and sustainable strategies and resources to help companies improve compliance systems”; (iii) “transparent and independent assessments, the results of which are published online”; and (iv) a “mechanism to address the most serious labor rights violations through a Third Party Complaint process.”
  5. Issara Institute
    1. Founded in 2014, Issara is non-profit organization based in Asia and the United States tackling issues of human trafficking and forced labour through worker voice, partnership and innovation. Issara is committed to collaborative partnerships with the private sector to create levers and opportunities for identifying and resolving adverse human rights impacts and risk, and at the same time committed to empowering workers to claim their rights. Issara’s Inclusive Labour Monitoring (ILM) focuses on continuous workplace monitoring and systems strengthening, with on-the-ground technical teams to support workers and business, while innovations such as the Golden Dreams application provide a platform for workers and a recruitment marketplace to ensure ethical conditions for jobseekers. Recognizing that the people being exploited (job seekers and workers), the people doing the exploiting and the people mandated to stop the exploitation are the three key actors directly involved in the act and process of labour exploitation and human trafficking within global supply chains, it seeks to directly intervene and disrupt harmful behaviors and systems while empowering positive behaviors and systems. Issara partners directly with global brands and retailers, supports and coordinates with large networks of civil society organizations, grassroots actors, business and recruitment actors, and engages with hundreds of thousands of workers in Southeast and South Asia.
  6. Labor Exploitation Accountability Hub
    1. “The Accountability Hub aims to improve both government and corporate accountability for human trafficking, forced labour and slavery in national and global business supply chains. . . . The Hub . . . provides a platform for . . . research and advocacy on accountability issues, including by fostering connections and information sharing among key stakeholders from different parts of the world. The main feature of the Hub is the publicly accessible Labour Exploitation Accountability Database, which provides a broad inventory of national laws and regulations addressing corporate accountability for severe labor exploitation in supply chains. The database is searchable by country, legal topic, and by keywords, and includes brief notes on the implementation of the collected legal mechanisms. Country summary pages also provide an overview of the national context and legal framework, and highlight key implementation issues.”
  7. Modern Slavery Registry
    1. Modern Slavery Registry was a central registry for statements published pursuant to Section 54 of the United Kingdom Modern Slavery Act, which requires commercial organizations that operate in the UK and that have an annual revenue over £36 million to produce a statement of the steps taken to address and prevent the risk of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains. The Registry was guided and supported by a governance committee which includes: Freedom Fund, Humanity United, Freedom United, Anti-Slavery International, the Ethical Trading Initiative, CORE Coalition, UNICEF UK, Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX), Trades Union Congress, UN Principles for Responsible Investment, and Oxfam GB. Modern Slavery Registry is now closed, however, because the government of the United Kingdom will launch its own registry in 2021. Historical records and guidance information are still available on their website.
  8. Responsible Business Alliance
    1. “Founded in 2004 by a group of leading electronics companies, the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), formerly the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), is a nonprofit comprised of electronics, retail, auto and toy companies committed to supporting the rights and well-being of workers and communities worldwide affected by the global supply chain. RBA members commit and are held accountable to a common Code of Conduct and utilize a range of RBA training and assessment tools to support continual improvement in the social, environmental and ethical responsibility of their supply chains.”
  9. Shift
    1. Shift, founded in 2011 by core members of Professor John Ruggie’s United Nations Mandate Team, is internationally renowned as the “leading center of expertise on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.” It was chaired by Professor John Ruggie. “Shift is a non-profit, mission-driven organization headquartered in New York City,” whose purpose is to transform how “business gets done” to ensure respect for people’s lives and dignity. It “works across all continents” with businesses to help shape their practices, culture, and behavior and works with governments, financial institutions, civil society, and other stakeholders to embed the right requirements and incentives into businesses’ operating frameworks.
  10. Verité
    1. An “independent, non-profit, civil society organization, Verité . . . [has partnered,] since 1995[,] with hundreds of corporations, governments, and NGOs to illuminate labor rights violations in supply chains and remedy them to the benefit of workers and companies alike. . . . [It] provide[s] businesses with tools that help to eliminate labor abuses . . . , [endeavors] to empower workers to advocate for their rights . . . , create[s] publicly-shared resources that enlighten and drive action . . . [and] contribute[s] . . . to government labor and human rights policy.” Verité assists companies in “benchmarking policy,” “evaluating sourcing to field-based interviews,” and “developing a portrait of their supply chain that identifies risk and labor rights abuses.” “Verité has a history of work in over 70 countries, with a global network of experts in Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, North America and Australia.”

Responsible Purchasing Code of Conduct: Schedule Q

Version 1.0

  • 1. Institutional commitments.
    • 1.1 Buyer recognizes that it has an obligation to respect human rights throughout its supply chains, in particular with respect to those human rights and principles enshrined in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, and in applicable labor and employment laws.
    • 1.2 Accordingly, Buyer commits to taking the human rights implications of its decisions into account at all times and to working towards the full implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development’s (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy.
    • 1.3 In particular, consistent with the UNGPs and the relevant OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct (sector specific where available), Buyer will establish and maintain a human rights due diligence process appropriate to its size and circumstances to identify, prevent, mitigate, and account for how Buyer addresses the impacts of its activities on the human rights of individuals directly or indirectly affected by its supply chains.
    • 1.4 Such due diligence will be both forward-looking and backward-looking, preventative, risk-based, and ongoing. It will involve meaningful engagement with stakeholders through participation in regular, transparent, two-way consultation and the timely sharing of relevant information with stakeholders in a format that they can understand and access. Due diligence will also require Buyer to provide support for and participate in remediation where appropriate and necessary, in particular where it caused or contributed to an adverse impact.
    • 1.5 All of the commitments undertaken by Buyer under this Responsible Purchasing Code of Conduct serve to advance and institutionalize human rights due diligence throughout Buyer’s own operations and supply chains so as to achieve or exceed the internationally recognized human rights standards identified in 1.1.
    • 1.6 Buyer commits to improving alignment across its teams and business units on relevant aspects of human rights and procurement and to assign oversight and responsibility for the human rights performance of its supply chain to its senior management and executive board.
    • 1.7 Buyer recognizes that its purchasing practices can either improve the human rights performance of its supply chains, or exacerbate and compound adverse human rights impacts for workers. Accordingly, Buyer will train and incentivize its procurement team to understand the direct links between Buyer’s purchasing practices and the labor conditions in its supply chains.
    • 1.8 Buyer will at all times foster a culture of cooperation and partnership with its suppliers. Buyer will treat its suppliers fairly and with respect and will communicate with them clearly and promptly throughout their relationship.
    • 1.9 Buyer will communicate externally all relevant information pertaining to its human rights policies, processes, and activities.
  • 2. Selecting suppliers.
    • 2.1 Buyer will select suppliers that have the financial, managerial, and legal capacity to meet both the commercial and the human rights obligations under the contract.
    • 2.2 Buyer will engage in dialogue with potential suppliers to ensure that they fully understand what is expected of them with respect to Buyer’s own human rights standards. This will include Buyer informing potential suppliers that they will be contractually required to cascade Buyer’s human rights standards to their own business relationships (i.e., beyond “tier 1”), that Buyer will expect to obtain, and supplier will be required to provide, throughout the life of the contract all relevant information regarding supplier’s own business relationships, and that Buyer will provide support for such activities, where appropriate and feasible.
  • 3. Negotiating the contract.
    • 3.1 Buyer will negotiate its supply contracts so as to meet its production requirements, while respecting and promoting human rights. Should a conflict arise between these objectives, the latter shall take priority.
    • 3.2 Buyer will not offer contracts on a take-it-or-leave-it basis or treat suppliers’ questions and negotiations as an automatic rejection of Buyer’s offer. Buyer will give suppliers an opportunity to negotiate the terms of the contract to ensure that both parties have a voice in structuring the arrangement and in advancing the human rights objectives of said arrangement.
    • 3.3 Buyer will collaborate with suppliers to agree on a contract price that accommodates all costs of production, including costs associated with upholding responsible business conduct. For the avoidance of doubt, such costs shall, at a minimum, include minimum wages, statutory benefits, and health and safety costs required by applicable law or collective bargaining agreements.
    • 3.4 Buyer will collaborate with its suppliers to agree on a timeline that ensures that orders will not trigger excessive working hours or unauthorized and unregulated subcontracting. Should Buyer require short lead times, Buyer will negotiate contract terms that ensure that its suppliers can perform under the contract while meeting Buyer’s own human rights standards.
    • 3.5 Buyer will formalize its arrangements with its suppliers in a written contract.
  • 4. Performing and renewing the contract.
    • 4.1 Should change orders (e.g., quantity increases or decreases, design alterations, timeline adjustment) be sought by Buyer during the contract term, Buyer will communicate updated requirements to its supplier clearly, promptly, and accurately. In cases where oral instructions containing change orders are provided, Buyer will confirm such instructions in writing as swiftly as possible.
    • 4.2 When making changes to an order, Buyer will engage in a dialogue with its supplier to establish that the latter can adjust to the new requirements without running afoul of Buyer’s own human rights standards. If the supplier cannot adjust, Buyer will make commercially reasonable modifications to enable the contract to conform to Buyer’s own human rights standards, for example, by amending target delivery times and providing appropriate additional compensation. Likewise, should the supplier need to modify the contract/order so as to continue meeting Buyer’s human rights standards, Buyer will collaborate with the supplier to identify appropriate modifications.
    • 4.3 Throughout the contract term(s), Buyer will engage in regular communication with its suppliers and provide ongoing opportunities for suppliers to tell Buyer whether they can meet Buyer’s timelines without undue negative impacts on the human rights performance of the contract. Should a supplier require more time to deliver a product in order to continue meeting Buyer’s own human rights standards, Buyer will, where commercially practicable, endeavor to accommodate a new timeline.
    • 4.4 If a new timeline cannot be agreed and the supplier elects not to perform under the contract in order to prevent or mitigate attending human rights risks, Buyer will not retaliate. Specifically, Buyer will not blacklist or sue a supplier that can establish that its decision not to perform under the contract was rooted in concern for upholding human rights standards.
    • 4.5 Should a supplier need to engage in subcontracting to meet Buyer’s changed requirements, then, as soon as reasonably practicable after receiving the subcontracting request from the supplier, Buyer will review the request, and, if satisfied that the subcontract would not increase the risk of adverse impacts, Buyer will authorize such subcontracting.
    • 4.6 In the event of a significant unforeseen increase in input costs during the contractual relationship, Buyer and supplier will negotiate adjustments to the contract price and/or make other modifications to accommodate those increases. Such increases may be incurred as a result of, for example, minimum wage rises, collective bargaining agreements, Buyer’s own commitments to paying a living wage, or unforeseen increases in material costs, other manufacturing costs, and/or currency fluctuations.
    • 4.7 Buyer will regularly seek feedback from its suppliers on the impact of its purchasing practices on the human rights performance of their contracts and ensure that said feedback will not produce adverse consequences for suppliers. Recognizing that suppliers may be reluctant to provide such feedback candidly, Buyer may seek to collect information anonymously (e.g. via an annual survey) or partner with an independent third party that can aggregate the data and present its findings to Buyer. Buyer also commits to providing feedback to its suppliers so that they are able to improve their own policies and programs.
    • 4.8 To aid suppliers in meeting their obligations under Buyer’s own human rights standards, Buyer will strive to provide reasonable material and practical assistance (e.g., financial, technological, training, capacity building) to suppliers throughout the contract term(s).
    • 4.9 Buyer will collaborate with its suppliers to establish benchmarks for assessing the human rights performance of the contract(s), in order to enable Buyer’s procurement team to make informed assessments regarding whether to award, renew, or terminate the contract(s). When it comes time to renew the contract(s), Buyer will seek to reward suppliers for superior human rights performance.
    • 4.10 Buyer commits to paying all suppliers in accordance with the terms agreed at the outset of the contract, without attempting to change payment terms retroactively. Should changes to payment terms be necessary, Buyer will ensure that such changes are mutually agreed with, and not to the detriment of, suppliers. To support this commitment, Buyer will provide its suppliers with clear and easily accessible guidance—in supplier’s own language—on payment procedures and corresponding dispute resolution mechanisms.
  • 5. Remediation for human rights harms.
    • 5.1 Buyer will ensure that effective, adequately funded, and governed operational level grievance mechanisms are in place to receive and address the concerns and grievances of affected or potentially affected stakeholders. These operational level grievance mechanisms will be consistent with the effectiveness criteria laid out in the UNGPs (legitimate, accessible, predictable, equitable, transparent, rights-compatible, a source of continuous learning, and based on engagement and dialogue).
    • 5.2 Where there is a risk of an adverse impact or where an adverse impact has occurred, Buyer will collaborate with its suppliers and with affected stakeholders to identify the “root cause” of the impact, so as to cease the impact and also prevent future harms.
    • 5.3 In the event that a human rights harm occurs in connection with the contract(s), and Buyer caused or contributed to the harm, Buyer will participate in remediation, in collaboration with other buyers as appropriate, and in proportion to its responsibility for the adverse impact and/or its capacity to remediate the impact. Where Buyer’s activities did not cause or contribute to the adverse impact, but are directly linked to it, Buyer will use or build (in collaboration with other stakeholders) its leverage with its suppliers to prevent any future harms.
    • 5.4 All remediation, whether carried out by suppliers or by suppliers in collaboration with Buyer (and other buyers as appropriate), will restore the affected person or persons to the situation they would have been in had the adverse impact not occurred, where possible. In all cases, remediation shall be proportionate to the scale and significance of the impact and shall be determined in consultation and engagement with impacted stakeholders and/or their representatives.
  • 6. Disengagement and responsible exit.
    • 6.1 Should Buyer wish to disengage from its suppliers because of a potential or already-occurred adverse impact, Buyer will do so responsibly and as a last resort where (i) attempts at preventing or mitigating adverse human rights impacts have failed, (ii) the adverse impact(s) is irremediable, or (iii) there is no reasonable prospect of change.
    • 6.2 Any disengagement, whether for commercial reasons, in response to an unremediated human rights harm, a force majeure event, or for any other reason, will take into account Buyer’s sourcing volume and the potential adverse impacts related to disengagement, so that Buyer may identify appropriate measures for disengaging responsibly and for mitigating the hardship that termination may bring upon stakeholders. Decisions regarding mitigation will involve reasonable consultations with affected stakeholders.
    • 6.3 Should Buyer decide to disengage, it will clearly communicate its intent in writing to its suppliers with reasonable notice and a clear timeline.
    • 6.4 If Buyer does disengage, it will pay its suppliers for any outstanding invoices and/or for costs already incurred in meeting the order prior to disengagement.

This report is the product of the Working Group and reflects its rough (and sometimes hotly debated) consensus. While produced under the auspices of the Uniform Commercial Code Committee of the American Bar Association Business Law Section, the report has not been approved or endorsed
by the Committee, the Section, or the Association. Accordingly, the report should not be construed to be the action of either the American Bar Association or the Business Law Section. Nothing contained herein, including the clauses to be considered for adoption, is intended, nor should it be considered, as the rendering of legal advice for specific cases or particular situations, and readers are responsible for obtaining such advice from their own legal counsel. This report and the clauses and other materials herein are intended for educational and informational purposes only. The lawyer
who advises on the use of these clauses must take responsibility for the legal advice offered. ** David Snyder as chair and Susan Maslow as vice chair served as principal drafters of this report, particularly the introductory text and Version 1.0 of the MCCs, which served as the groundwork for this Version 2.0. Much of the drafting of the new contract clauses in Version 2.0 was undertaken pro bono publico by a team at Linklaters LLP, although the ultimate drafting was done (and ultimate drafting decisions made) by Snyder and Maslow with the support or at least acquiescence of the Working Group. David Snyder is Professor of Law and Director of the Business Law Program at American University, Washington College of Law, in Washington, D.C., and would like to acknowledge grant funding from the law school as well as travel funding from the American Bar Association. During the final stages of this project he served as a Fernand Braudel Senior Fellow at the European University Institute (Florence), whose grant support is gratefully acknowledged. He would also like to thank Katherine Borchert, Philip Killeen, Sophie Lin, and Alexandra Finocchio for excellent research assistance. Susan Maslow is a semi-retired partner at Antheil Maslow & MacMinn, LLP, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She is also chair of the Corporate Social Responsibility Subcommittee to Implement the ABA Model Principles on Labor Trafficking and Child Labor. Special thanks are due to Aditi Bagchi, Omri Ben-Shahar, Robert Hillman, Jonathan Lipson, Trang Nguyen, Kish Parella, and Salli Swartz. † Sarah Dadush, Professor of Law at Rutgers Law School, led the Principled Purchasing Project to move the MCCs toward a more balanced allocation of responsibility for the human rights performance of supply contracts between buyers and suppliers. Specifically, the Project team produced MCCs that articulate the buyer’s obligations to behave responsibly in relation to its supplier in order to better protect workers’ human rights; the Project team also produced the Responsible Purchasing Code of Conduct, referred to as Schedule Q throughout the MCCs. The team is made up of Olivia Windham-Stewart, John F. Sherman III, and a team of lawyers acting pro bono publico from Linklaters LLP, and the Project benefited from a generous grant by the Laudes Foundation.