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Human Rights Due Diligence During COVID-19 and Lessons for the Future

An event with Ms. Shubha Sekhar, Ms. Rachel Davis, Mr. Livio Sarandrea, Ms. Cristina Tébar Less, Ms. Tara Dermott and Ms. Payal Jain
The Coca-Cola Company, Shift, United Nations Development Programme, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, International Organization for Migration and H&M

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About this event


One of the innovations of the UNGPs was that it borrowed the due diligence concept from corporate law and applied it to human rights. Human rights due diligence (HRDD) is a continuous, four-step process through which businesses can identify, prevent, mitigate and account for their adverse human rights impacts. Transnational, multi-tiered supply chains present considerable challenges to effectively carry out HRDD, including gaining and exercising leverage and building the capacity of supply chain business partners. This is exacerbated by COVID-19, which is expected to have long-term implications for global supply chains. As a result, millions of workers are being laid-off and face extreme poverty, which is also likely to affect certain sections of society, such as children and women disproportionately. Moreover, COVID-19 highlights how irresponsible purchasing practices can severely prevent the enjoyment of human rights. A perfect example in this respect are recent developments in Bangladesh’s garment industry, where order cancellations lead to lay-offs and subject workers to poverty and exploitation. Against this background, the need to consider purchasing practices when conducting human rights due diligence has become more urgent than ever.  


The session will explore the HRDD tools and approaches employed by businesses in addressing their adverse impacts in the times of COVID-19, and the challenges faced by them in doing so. The session will also explore how collaborative purchasing models can be integrated in the HRDD and allow buyers to integrate purchasing practices into the HRDD cycle.


This session aims to:

  • Evaluate the consequences/challenges of COVID-19 for business operations and global supply chains, and how HRDD can be used to respond to these consequences/challenges;

  • Explore the linkages between purchasing practices and HRDD, and how to integrate the two.


  • What new challenges does COVID-19 pose to conducting HRDD?

  • How can businesses integrate purchasing practices into the HRDD cycle?

Ms. Shubha Sekhar

Shubha Sekhar has over two decades of international & cross-functional experience in Human Rights, Sustainability, Sustainable Business, Responsible sourcing, CSR, Law and Government, giving her a unique and practical understanding of different facets of responsible & sustainable business.

Mr. Livio Sarandrea

Livio Sarandrea, is UNDP’s Business and Human Rights Global Adviser. He is also the lead adviser of the Program: “Business and Human Rights in Asia (B+HR Asia)” which is operational in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India. A Human Rights lawyer with over 20 years of field experience in Southeast Europe, Africa and Asia, Livio has advised and managed programs on Business and Human Rights, in support of National Human Rights Institutions, Access to Justice, Conflict Prevention, Transitional Justice and Security Sector Reform for OSCE, DPKO/OHCHR and UNDP.

Ms. Tara Dermott

Tara Dermott is the Head of the IOM Hong Kong SAR, China Sub-Office where she leads a dynamic team committed to supporting diverse migrant populations and the communities wherein they live. As a strategic and experienced leader, Tara works with governments, civil society and industry leaders to collaboratively design and deliver innovative programs to prevent human trafficking, modern slavery and forced labour.

Ms. Payal Jain

Working in textile industry for more than 22 years. Started working in a factory on personnel and labour issues securing compliance and legal aspects. Experienced working in buying agency, handling multiple customers and their Sustainability needs. And now have been part of the H&M Group for last 16 years and have worked in different regions and roles covering South East Asia and now covering the Global Supply Chain on Social Sustainability. In addition, have worked as Sourcing & Operations head for South Korea Supply Chain for 2 years, adding Business experience to offer customers a sustainable fashion.

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