Renewed advice to Fair Wear members on the deteriorating situation in Myanmar

Given the deteriorating situation in Myanmar, we have called on all Fair Wear member companies to assess their presence in the country as a matter of urgency.

It is vital that in their assessment, companies apply the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and OECD due diligence guidance. We advise that the process includes dialogue with rightsholders and their representatives, in particular those who represent workers.  Fair Wear will facilitate that where possible. Based on our continued discussions with local representatives and our ongoing monitoring of the situation, we have issued guidance to our members, that we’d like to reiterate and specify:

  • As mentioned in our former update, all brands sourcing in Myanmar should weigh carefully all aspects when doing their due diligence before placing new orders.
  • Brands should ensure, to the best of their abilities, that there are no direct or indirect business, commercial, or financial ties to the Myanmar military and military-owned businesses. This has become increasingly important now given the army’s appalling track record of human rights abuses, and as there are more and more cases reported in the media where there is close communication/cooperation between factory managers and the military.
  • For brands that are not active in Myanmar at present, considering the current situation in Myanmar, HRDD can only lead to the conclusion to not start new production or expand production in Myanmar at present.
  • Equally, when it becomes increasingly difficult, or no longer possible, to harness your leverage to address and remediate labour violations, if and when these occur, or when you are not able to adequately monitor the working conditions at your suppliers, brands should consider responsible disengagement.

To further strengthen and detail the advice and support we give to companies, ETI and Fair Wear have commissioned Due Diligence Design (D.D. Design) and SHIFT to conduct a rapid sectoral assessment on business and human rights in the current context in Myanmar. The assessment will be conducted in line with the UNGPs and OECD due diligence guidance. The results of the assessment are expected within the course of December 2021.

This independent assessment will include fact finding on human rights impacts that are linked to the export-oriented apparel sector within Myanmar from ownership to manufacturing to export and the severity of these impacts. It will seek to answer the following questions:

  1. To what extent can companies in the export-oriented garment sector monitor, prevent, mitigate and provide access to remedy on severe human rights impacts linked to the sector within Myanmar in the current and developing context?
  2. What are the expectations of the UNGPS and OECD on companies for responsible sourcing from Myanmar in the current context?
  3. What would constitute responsible exit?