Written by Hinrich Voss.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed vulnerabilities and fragilities in global value chains. The worldwide economic lockdowns to contain COVID-19 have led in some industries to unilateral cancellations and suspensions of orders from overseas suppliers by transnational corporations (TNCs). These decisions are argued to be in conflict with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the Sustainable Development Goals, and related national laws because they have contributed to the risk that the human rights of workers will be violated and that they will become victims of modern slavery. In response, international business policies that target the conduct of TNCs and global value chains need to be reconsidered to achieve global value chain integration while strengthening local bargaining, affording sustainable growth, and protecting human rights.