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Ethical trade

Garment workers in New Delhi, India Credit: Claudia Janke/ETI

At a glance

The mission of the Ethical Trade team is to influence and enable companies to respect labour rights in global supply chains.


The mission of the Ethical Trade team is to influence and enable companies to respect labour rights in global supply chains. We do this by understanding, shaping and disseminating best practice drawing on our own expertise (from research, campaigns and ethical procurement) as well as the expertise of external organisations. 

We engage with companies and brand owners who source horticulture, garments or electronic products, through a mixture of advocacy and consultancy. A rights-based approach is central to everything that we do. 

Useful resources

The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI)

Co-founded by Oxfam in 1998, the ETI is a multi-stakeholder organisation where trade unions, companies and NGOs have an equal say. It exists to improve working conditions in global supply chains by developing effective approaches to implementing the ETI Base Code of labour practice. We participate in the NGO caucus as well as at board level.

The UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Business (the 'Ruggie' Principles)

Since their publication in March 2011, the Ruggie Principles have become an authoritative global reference point for business and human rights. They apply to all states and to all business enterprises, both transnational and others, regardless of their size, sector, location, ownership and structure. 

The principles rest on three pillars, stating that:

  • Governments have the duty to protect against human rights abuses
  • Companies have the responsibility to protect human rights
  • Victims of human rights abuses need greater access to effective remedy

For Oxfam's perspective on the Ruggie Principles see our briefing document: Business and Human Rights: An Oxfam perspective on the UN Guiding Principles

International Labour Organisation (ILO) 

The ILO is the international organization responsible for drawing up and overseeing international labour standards. It is the only 'tripartite' United Nations agency that brings together representatives of governments, employers and workers to jointly shape policies and programmes promoting the Decent Work for All global campaign.

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