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Clear rules requiring EU firms to respect human rights in all their global operations must be laid down and enforced, urge MEPs in a resolution voted on Tuesday. Clauses on corporate liability for human rights violations should be included in EU trade and investment agreements, they add. MEPs also advocate creating a certified “abuse-free” product label at EU level.

The resolution was approved by 569 votes to 54, with 74 abstentions.

MEPs denounce human rights violations which occur as a result of management decisions by some EU businesses, and remind corporations that, as some of the major players in economic globalisation, financial services and international trade, they have a moral duty and a legal obligation to respect human rights.

EU member states should systematically include rules on corporate liability for violations of human rights in trade and investment agreements, MEPs stress in the resolution. They should also ensure that those affected have access to an effective remedy in case of human rights violations, they add.

The rules would apply to firms established in EU member states or under their jurisdictions.

Raising consumer awareness

To raise awareness among producers and consumers, a certified “abuse-free” product label should be created at EU level, say MEPs, and monitored by an independent body which would verify and certify that no abuse has  occurred at any stage of  the production chain.

Conflict minerals and "dual use" items

EU companies using raw materials or commodities that might originate in conflict-affected areas should provide complete information on the content and origin of products, say MEPs. They also call for the EU’s export control law on civilian/military “dual use” items to be updated, since "technologies made by European companies are still causing human rights violations all over the world".