States are required to respect, protect and fulfil human rights. These obligations stem from national law, for example national Constitutions, and from Regional and International law, for example the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) etc. Public procurement can be used as a vehicle to comply with these human rights obligations - for example by ensuring that governments' suppliers abide by HR standards throughout their supply chains.
Likewise, public procurement can be a tool in the hands of national, regional and local governments to deal with issues of social sustainability particularly in the context of difficult economic circumstances.
However, such instrumental use of public procurement has not been fully explored by governments yet and risks being subject to various legal and policy limitations. It is the examination and analysis of these tensions - at the national, European and International level - that forms the focus of the Research Unit on Public Procurement, Human Rights and Social Sustainability.