Tony’s Chocolonely and Lara Wolters deliver 66,099 signatories to Didier Reynders, EU Commissioner for Justice, demanding human rights due diligence in companies’ supply chains.
“We’re proud that more than 66,099 Choco Fans support our demand for due diligence, and we urge Commissioner Reynders to make this law become a reality now. We believe it’s high time for all companies to take 100% responsibility for their supply chains and stop hiding human rights and environmental abuses behind excuses,” said Henk Jan Beltman, Chief Chocolate Officer.
“Voluntary programs and sustainability initiatives are simply not enough and too many empty promises have been made by the industry in the past. We need concrete laws to protect human rights!”
The petition, delivered on June 17, demands governments to hold companies across all sectors accountable by law for human right violations in their supply chains. It was presented to Commissioner Reynders in a joint effort with Member of the European Parliament Lara Wolters, who is leading the work on a new EU-wide Directive on corporate due diligence and corporate accountability.
Lara Wolters explained: “An ambitious due diligence legislation with a broad scope is urgently needed. While the obligations should be proportional for smaller companies, small and medium size enterprises like Tony’s Chocolonely must be covered to make an impact. It is key that all companies, must ensure that their entire supply chain is slave free and does not contribute to environmental degradation. Especially for high-risk sectors like cocoa. Mandatory due diligence rules would be good news for sustainable supply chains and for consumers who want to be sure that their products are made while respecting people and planet.”
As well as benefitting producers such as small cocoa farmers, the new law promises an advantage for consumers as well. They would be able to shop for any products in the whole EU market with the certainty that the companies are doing their best to monitor, prevent, mitigate and remediate social or environmental exploitation, or else be held accountable.
What’s Tony’s take on the new EU legislation?
Tony’s expects the European Commission to come up with an ambitious proposal that will finally enforce universal human rights and environmental standards, urging lawmakers to include a strict set of baseline conditions:
- Big or small, all companies must be bound by the new law, and apply due diligence in their entire value chain. Especially in high-risk sectors such as cocoa.
- An adequate standard of living is a human right, and companies’ purchasing practices should enable producers to earn a living income.
- Companies must use a clear, understandable and publicly accessible reporting framework that includes mandatory checks on key human rights and environmental issues.
- EU member states must take legal action when companies do not fulfil their due diligence obligations, and victims of human rights violations must be guaranteed easy access to justice and remedies in EU courts.
As Paul Schoenmakers, Head of Impact, who delivered the petition, explained: “to change a high- risk sector such as the chocolate industry, the new legislation needs to close any loopholes and follow the UN Guiding Principles and OECD’s Due Diligence Guidelines for multinational enterprises. Tony’s has put these in place through our rights-based roadmap, our 5 Sourcing Principles for fairer cocoa and our fully transparent Annual FAIR Report. This is not an impossible ask for other companies and actually prooves to be a strength. We also help other companies in our sector to make the transition with Tony’s Open Chain.”
Image credit: Tony’s Chocolonely
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Editor, International Confectionery
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