WEBINAR: Decent Work in Supply Chains

Decent Work in the Supply Chains

Revisiting a gap in international law and responses from the UN system

What: The 19th International Labour and Employment Relations Association (ILERA) World Congress, Lund, Sweden, 21–24 June 2021

When: June the 24th, 8.00 – 9.30 a.m. (CET, Swedish time)

Where: Online, register here (fee: Euro 30)  

There is a widespread perception that the global economy has created material wealth on an unprecedented scale but there are persistent imbalances, numerous social and environmental externalities, and a deepening inequality in distributing risks and benefits.

This state of affairs erodes the labour and human rights systems and undermines the stability and legitimacy of economic exchanges. By now the UN system is approaching half a century of heated debates about the social responsibilities and roles of transnational companies.

Nevertheless the gap in under international law persists. A treaty on corporate accountability remains a distant prospect. The session is organised to further understand, explain, and inform current debates about regulating transnational corporations and their supply chains.

Contributors to this session convened by the Raoul Wallenberg Institute are academics and senior practitioners from key organizations shaping the current discourse. This session taps into the latest thinking and lessons learned in an attempt to make sense of the bewildering array of developments around supply chains and value-based trade and investment. The response from the UN system to current developments will determine whether the UN establishes itself as a pole for innovation in the complex multi-level governance of transnational supply chains.



Surya Deva (City University of Hong Kong and member of the UN Working Group on business and human rights)

  • Introducing the theme of the panel and the speakers

Presentations (8.05 – 8.40)

Radu Mares (Raoul Wallenberg Institute)

  • The UN Human Rights Council: Treaty deliberations in the Intergovernmental Group and the prospects for a new treaty on business and human rights

Laura Carballo Piñeiro (World Maritime University)

  • The International Labor Organisation: The 2016 Conference on decent work in supply chains and the innovative 2006 Maritime Convention regime

Khalil Hamdani (Lahore School of Economics)

  • The UNCTAD: The Code of Conduct negotiations facilitated by the UN Centre on Transnational Corporations  and lessons for a fairer globalisation.

Panel discussion (8.40 – 9.10)

David Gaukrodger (Senior Legal Adviser) OECD
Alison Tate (Director of Economic and Social Policy) International Trade Unions Confederation
Guus Houttuin (Senior Trade Advisor) European External Action Service

Question & Answers (9.10 – 9.30)



Alison Tate is the Director of Economic and Social Policy of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). The ITUC is the global peak body of labour unions and represents 200 million workers in 162 countries. Alison represents unions at the United Nations, the G20 and international financial institutions. She is an economist and has experience in national and global policy areas across economics, international trade and investment, social policy, and human rights. Alison leads the ITUC’s work on “Global Shifts and Just Transitions” which includes driving global conversations on the industrial transformation and the social, political and economic transformation that is needed in the next 10 years.



David Gaukrodger leads OECD policy analysis on investment treaties and works with OECD, G20 and other governments. He worked earlier on the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. He also helped design a G20-mandated peer review system to evaluate compliance with international standards for the exchange of tax-related information. David was previously a Special Counsel with Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. He graduated from Sciences Po Paris with a “mention lauréat” and obtained law degrees with distinction from the University of Toronto and the Université de Paris I. He was a law clerk for Justice Gerard La Forest at the Supreme Court of Canada.


Guus Houttuin is Senior Trade Advisor to the European External Action Service and chairs the OECD Multi-stakeholder Steering Group on “responsible minerals”. He focuses on due diligence in the supply chain and responsible business conduct from a Brussels and global perspective and also monitors countries’ performance on human and labor rights and environment under the EU’s General Scheme of Preferences. As Ambassador for the Council of the EU he was involved in the creation of the Human Rights Council. Before that he was a Legal Adviser to the Council of the European Union, i.e. during the negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol.


Khalil Hamdani is a visiting professor at the Graduate Institute of Development Studies of the Lahore School of Economics in Pakistan. He also sits on the board of CUTS International, a Global South consumer-advocacy organisation. He served in the United Nations for 29 years, retiring in 2007 as director of the Investment Division of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. His publications include a book on the United Nations Centre on Transnational Corporations. He graduated from the Johns Hopkins University and holds a doctorate in economics from Georgetown University.



Laura Carballo Piñeiro joined the World Maritime University as a Professor in February 2018. She holds the Nippon Foundation Chair of Maritime Labour Law and Policy, and is the Head of the Maritime Law and Policy Specialization. She is also Associate Professor at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain (on leave), where she developed her expertise in private international law, international litigation, international insolvency and maritime law.  As a Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, she has specialized in international maritime labour law being her research published in 2015 by Springer edited by the International Max Planck Research School for Maritime Affairs at the Hamburg University.


Radu Mares is Associate Professor at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (RWI), and the Faculty of Law, Lund University, Sweden. With a background in international human rights law, he focuses on regulatory aspects raised by multinational enterprises and their supply chains. In order to understand how regulations emerge and are complied with, Radu’s research combines transnational law perspectives, corporate social responsibility and corporate governance. He has conducted teaching and training in China, Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Belarus, Zimbabwe, Turkey and other RWI capacity strengthening projects. Radu is Interim Head of Research and Team Leader on ‘Economic Globalisation and Human Rights’ at RWI.


Surya Deva is an Associate Professor at the School of Law of City University of Hong Kong, and the current Vice Chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights. Deva has published extensively in the business and human rights field. He is one of the founding Editors-in-Chief of the Business and Human Rights Journal.




Featured image/Photo by Fakurian Design on Unsplash

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