Sustainable Development and Business Law

Table of Content

Executive Summary

This report aims to give an overview of the sustainable development for organizations against issues for child labour, forced labour and flouting of international environmental regulations. At the beginning of the report, it gives a brief indication about the facts emerged from the case. Then it respectively discusses the concept of child labour, forced labour and flouting of international environmental regulations associate with their definitions and relevant acts and conventions. The discussion of issues is applied to the case study to discover the potential issue and consequences that can be caused. At the end of this report, recommendations beyond legislation are illustrated to provide ideas for solving the issues through economy and education.

The Facts

There are two British nationals who get arrested in Vietnam and they are charged as engaging in Human Trafficking according to Vietnamese Criminal Code. Evidence shows that the British people have background of representing five multinational companies which have business cross cloths, electrical goods and cosmetics.The goods are mainly sold to EU, US and Australia. The companies build their factories in Vietnam, China and Bangladesh and the multinational companies engage in importing goods directly from the factories.

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This section focuses on the issues that emerge from the case and the relationship between the issues and the sustainability for organizations. It involves definitions of the issues and the impacts that can be caused to industries. The academic knowledge is applied to the case study associate with concentration on international business.

Child Labour

In recent years, child labour has become a global issue in the society. In 2015, the United Nations (UN) estimates that more than 200 million children are classified as child labour and nearly 70 percent of them work in hazardous conditions (Lesley, 2015). According to George (1990), not all the work done by children are classified as child labour. In fact, work participation which is regarded as positive for growth and schooling for children is strongly encouraged in the society. Young people can gain work experience from their workplace. The skills and knowledge from work can help them to build early advantage and confidence to adopt the society in the future. The managers from organizations can also find the potential targets from the young workers. The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines child labour as work that is ‘mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children.’ The activities covers negative interference with their schooling. Child labour could be affected by factors such as age, type of work, working hours and workplace conditions. The concept is also interpreted variously by people and government in different countries.

Children is hired and employed as they can lower the labour cost for the organizations and they have irreplaceable skills compared with adults. Children are easy to be managed by the organization as they have low awareness on their rights and they have less complaints and trouble making than adults (Kolk and Tuider, 2002). The globalization raises up the competition among multinational companies to make success in the market. The strategy of child labour by the organizations are seen as short cut for them to catch up with their rivals.

ILO has demonstrated that elimination of child labour could bring more benefits than costs to the society. One of the fundamental standards on child labour from ILO is Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138). The standard sets the criteria that the minimum age of employment is 15 or above and it is set as 13 or above for light work. The age limit is lower for the areas where the economy and educational facilities are insufficiently developed.

Another essential standard for child labour is Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182). The standard targets the people who are under 18 and it retains right to punish the organizations which use child labour for all forms of slavery such as sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage, forced or compulsory labour. Organizations are requested to give necessary and appropriate direct assistance on education and training to the children who are removed from the worst forms of children labour.

Legislation is a powerful strategy for governments to use to restrict the appearance of child labour, but it is not always effective to reach the expectations. For example, the India government in 2012 made quick actions to solve sale of child labour from traffickers, but the number of child slavery still remains high in the country (TheGuardian, 2012). The fact shows that the problem still persists and it is hard to rely only on legislation to abolish the things.

Forced Labour

ILO has defined the forced labour as the situations in which persons have violence and intimidation from the organizations they work for. It is a contemporary term of slavery which involves most situations of human trafficking. Forced labour is also a big issue for worldwide countries to solve. Figures from ILO (2017) shows that approximately 40.3 million people are in modern slavery in 2016, including 24.9 million in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriage.

The reasons for existence of forced labour are various in the world. One of the main reasons for causing forced labour is poverty and discrimination (ILO, 2014). People struggle with the work conditions and environment and they try to change their lives in another place. Poor people have a high demand for cash to make daily survival. The group of people are easily tricked and trapped by the organization with low payment and high workload and work hours. Most of them feel scared and worried to report the unfair situation as it is not affordable and sustainable for them to lose jobs. The organizations where forced labour exists can get huge benefits and advantage against competitors. The low salary from employees allow the organizations to save cost and make investment on other areas. The group of people are easy to be controlled by managers as they have much less choice to make complaints and change than general employees in the organization. The force labour can also bring huge economical loss to the society. ‘21 million victims in forced labour and the more than US $150 billion in illegal profits generated by their work exceeds the population and GDP of many countries or territories around the world’ (ILO, 2014).

Instruments about forced labour can be found from ILO. Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29) is defined as ‘all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily.’ The convention aims to prohibit all forms of forced or compulsory labour. It gives restrictions to ILO members to suppress use of forced or compulsory labours in any form within a short period. Few exceptions such as military service and normal civic obligations are included in the convention. Illegal extraction of forced or compulsory labour is considered as penal offence. As of 2020, , the convention is ratified by 178 out of 187 ILO members in the world.

Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 (No. 105) contributes to punish individuals or organizations that make use of labour as means of political coercion or education. It plays role of punishing the group which hold and express negative political views against the established political, economical and social system. It gives restrictions to organizations which use labour for purpose of economic development and it also establishes relevant discipline for discrimination.

The Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention is an update of the past convention which added advanced protection, prevention and compensation measures to enforce the discipline and contribute to further eliminate the forced labour such as trafficking.

Forced labour has similar features comparing to child labour as organizations can make huge profit in a short term through the illegal means. Forced labour can also be challenging for society to prohibit if both organizations and individuals do not expect the consequence from legislation. The poverty and discrimination compulsorily drives the people to work with low salary and unfair conditions. The legislation is demonstrated as powerful to restrict the phenomenon, but it cannot completely eliminate the problem as legislation does not consider the conditions and thoughts from the group of people they concern with.

Flouting of International Environmental Regulations

Although people from different countries have common awareness of protecting environment, the standard settled in each country is different. For example, China follows its own Air Pollution Control Act (China) against air pollution and Japan follows Air Pollution Control law.The difference upon mechanism The organizations play roles of both input and output in the society. The resources they invest into the industries, such as human capital, technology and cash flow are transferred into the products and services they provide to customers. The impacts that they generate towards the environment could be various depend on the strategy and methods they applied in the process of production. The environmental issues from organizations are strongly concentrated by the society. Over 100 agreements about the environment protection are established through the history.

Control of Pollution Act 1974 is established to protect the environment from number of issues such as air, noise, water, atmospheric pollution and waste on land. In the UK, the Environmental Protection Act 1974 enforces the effectiveness of control and management upon emissions to environment. Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 provides specific instruments to protect listed buildings and conservation areas in the UK. The Climate Change Act 2008 aims to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide in the UK from levels recorded in 1990 by at least 80% by 2050. The current Energy Act 2020 sets standard for energy efficiency to the UK energy providers to prevent waste.

The facts from case study show that the two British nationals are arrested in Vietnam and they are suspected for engaging in Acts of Human Trafficking. As they work for five multinational companies which have factories in the Asian countries, there is a high possibility that the companies make illegal moves for human trafficking. The research from Walk Free (2014) shows that there are nearly 30 million labour who are regarded as slavery in every country in the world and about 72 percent of the group come from Asia. The data has demonstrated that the factories which locate in the Asian countries such as China, Vietnam and Bangladesh have a high suspect of involving child and labour force. The Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) can be applied to the case if the two British nationals are found under 18 years old. The companies have business which is connected to electric goods, cosmetics and clothes in different Asian countries and it claims that the goods are imported directly from the local factories. The facts give concentration upon the environmental issues. Although the air pollution in many Asian countries are high (IQAir, 2019), it has to be admitted that the awareness for importance of environmental protection are raising in these areas (Boer, 1998).


Legislation has limitations to restrict the social issues in the world, thus it is urgent and essential to find solutions beyond laws. Sometimes child labour occurs in the organization because the group of people do not aware the rights and conditions that they can have based on the legislations. They have little knowledge and insufficient information to help themselves in the workplace. Therefore, enforcement on education towards the children can be effective to solve the issue. The UK government should make relevant policies and actions for sending teaching forces to Vietnam to prevent the appearance of child labour. The organizations can hire skilled and talented employees after they finished the education from school and college. The consequence could eventually increase the work efficiency for the organizations, which is satisfactory result for managers. The strategy ensures people in the Vietnam, from parents to their children, to fully understand the harm of child labour and the potential benefits they can have in the future. The strategy also contributes to a rise of opportunities for national teachers to find jobs in Vietnam. It helps to stimulate the economy for both UK and Vietnam and the connection between the two countries can also be reinforced through the action.

One of the main reasons for child and forced labour is poverty. The parents struggle with the daily lives and send their children to exchange improvement for quality of life. The Vietnam government should find ways to stimulate the national economy and make policies to attract foreign employers to invest in the areas. The policy can be done through loan and bank system in the country. The exploitation of new work opportunities allow the local people to meet the necessary standard of daily life. The number of child and forced labour could be reduced as people are no longer compulsorily required to do unfair work in the society. Before the implementation, the government should focus on creating secured and safe environment for the potential investors. The investment can only happen if the investors believe that sustainable profit can be gained from making business in the place. Reduction upon montages and rents can also be effective to reduce the child labour if the family members no longer think that they have to their kids to work.

Another method for reduce the financial burden for families could be donation. The method is applied upon multiple countries in the world and it is effective to provide direct and necessary support to the families in need. Sometimes necessaries such as food, cloth and books are more important than funds towards those families. The contributions must run through reputed organizations to ensure that the donated money really goes to the target people.


Overall, the issues from both child and forced labour are still persistent and occur in different countries (Walk Free, 2014). Globalisation and poverty are the main reasons for causing the issues in the worldwide countries (LeBaron et al, 2018). There are evidence showing that the situation is turned around as the awareness of harm from issues are raising among countries in recent years. For example, Argentina ratified the Protocol of Forced Labour Convention (C29) in 2016 and make long-term Action Plan of combating Human Trafficking and Exploitation (U.S. Department of Labour, 2020). Thailand becomes the first Asian country which ratify the Protocol in 2018. New legislation against forced labour is established and local factories are requested to compensate the underpaid workers if unfair work conditions are found (Reuters, 2019). Recommendations beyond laws such as education and investment can contribute to the change upon the quality of life for individuals and it consequently reduces the number of child and forced labour as people are no longer trapped in struggling for their lives.

Table of legislation

  • Minimum Age Convention 1973 (C138)
  • Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention 1999 (C182)
  • Forced Labour Convention 1930 (C29)
  • Abolition of Forced Labour Convention 1957 (C105)
  • Control of Pollution Act 1974 (C40)
  • Air Pollution Control (China)
  • Air pollution Control Law
  • Environmental Protection Act 1974 (C164)
  • Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (C9)


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