Made in Misery: Mandating Supply Chain Labor Compliance




Virtually all consumer products in the developed world are produced in supply chain factories abroad. Media exposés periodically reveal the deplorable working conditions in factories that produce products for world-renowned brands. Public institutions, however, tend to be too weak to enforce local labor laws in the prime jurisdictions for supply chain manufacturing, and the recent efforts of private regulators to maintain labor standards throughout the chains have failed. This Note argues that supply chain labor compliance ought to be mandatory, not aspirational. Several examples of innovative public-private partnerships have delivered on the promise of supply chain labor maintenance. In order to scale-up those successful programs, both public and private actors must orchestrate a transnational enforcement mechanism. Each downstream actor, in its own specialized capacity, must influence actors upstream to enforce labor compliance.

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