The 24th of April marked the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster, and to mark the occasion, the European Parliament adopted a motion calling for mandatory human rights due diligence.

The deadliest garment factory accident in history

In 2013, the collapse of this clothing factory killed over 1,100 workers in Bangladesh. Since then, the garment industry has remained under the spotlight of the international community. Yet, the Rana Plaza tragedy points to a broader lack of corporate accountability in today’s global supply chain model.

The European brands which were sourcing garments from the factory, have failed to address the long history of fire and safety concerns in the Bangladeshi garment industry. Preventive measures to address these risks could have saved lives. Today, victims are still awaiting compensation, as the compensation fund created in response to the tragedy is still short of 3 million USD, despite the naming and shaming campaigns of the Clean Clothes Campaign and other organisations.

Companies have a responsibility to act with due diligence, to avoid infringing on the rights of others and to address adverse impacts that they cause or contribute to

In commemoration of this tragic event, the European parliament has adopted a motion urging for the creation of “a legal obligation of due diligence for EU companies outsourcing production to third countries, including measures to secure traceability and transparency”. The motion also urged EU governments to improve their legal framework to ensure access to remedy.

This call echoes the French bill on mandatory due diligence, which was adopted by the French national assembly in March 2015. Due diligence is also at the heart of the “conflict minerals” reform.

The European Union should not miss out on this call for more responsible business. We cannot wait for another disaster to take action.