A Corporate Human Rights Due Diligence Law for California

Sarah W. Gamble - UC Davis School of Law
Vol. 55
April 2022
Page 2421

The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (“UNGPs”) establish that corporations and States have a role in respecting and protecting human rights. Yet today, many of the world’s largest corporations have failed to show any evidence of identifying or mitigating human rights abuse in their supply chains. In response, States have begun passing human rights due diligence (“HRDD”) laws, which generally require businesses to identify, mitigate, and report human rights risks throughout their supply chains.

While HRDD laws are on the rise in Europe, they have been largely absent in the United States. Instead, there has been a focus on environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) investing, as well as shareholder proposals, as a means to change corporate behavior. This Note discusses this phenomenon and argues that while ESG investing and shareholder proposals have the potential to create positive impacts, they cannot serve as a replacement for regulation. Drawing on lessons from the French Duty of Vigilance Law and the German Supply Chains Act, this Note argues that California should embrace its unique positionality and pass a corporate human rights due diligence law.
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