The globalisation of the flow of goods, finance and transportation has created a global division of labour. Regions have specialized according to their comparative cost advantages. In most developing and emerging countries, the production factor “labour” is particularly inexpensive. Today, most international trading companies source the majority of their labour-intensive consumer goods from these regions, particularly garments, jewellery and electronic items.
The advantages of globalisation are accompanied by challenges: Consumer goods must not be produced to the detriment of working conditions, regardless of whether this concerns excessive overtime, poverty wages or other unacceptable working conditions. The UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights clearly stipulates responsibilities: Governments as well as trading companies and their suppliers are jointly accountable for ensuring that social standards are consistently upheld or remediated in case of violations.