Committee on Trademark Licensing and Human Rights

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Since 2001, the University has had a Freedom of Association Policy which guides the production of our licensed products to ensure that those who create them have certain human rights and protections, such as the legal right to organize and form an independent labor union. Eleven countries, including China, fail to meet the policy’s standards. 

From 2014 to 2018, the Worker Participation Committee carefully reviewed the University’s Freedom of Association policy. During the process, they implemented a pilot program in 2015 that analyzed and monitored the working conditions of 14 factories located in five countries. As a result of its deliberations with faculty, staff, students, licensees, factories and corporate responsibility partners, the Worker Participation Committee developed a set of recommendations to amend the University’s Freedom of Association Policy. 

In May 2018, the committee completed its work and shared those recommendations in a final report with the campus community, and University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., accepted those recommendations.    

While recognizing the important steps that have been accomplished so far, the committee determined that the effort to make lasting improvements to workers’ rights in factories around the world is never truly complete. Among its recommendations, the committee called for the creation of a standing committee to monitor the University's licensing activities and oversee the implementation of various strategic initiatives. Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves was appointed to chair the standing committee, named the Committee on Licensing Standards and Human Rights.


The University’s Standing Committee for Licensing and Human Rights is appointed by the Executive Vice President to provide advice concerning policies and procedures to address issues in the production of licensed goods that carry the University of Notre Dame’s name, logos, marks, or other symbols. The Committee includes students, faculty, and staff and reports its recommendations to the Executive Vice President.


Committee Charge

The Committee shall advise the University concerning policies and practices to ensure that licensees and their contracted factories adhere to the University’s Licensing Code of Conduct for Labor Standards and Human Rights in the manufacture of licensed goods. The Committee is charged to:

  1. Develop the University’s Licensing Code of Conduct and ensure it promotes the University’s commitment to advancing corporate responsibility with respect to fair labor practices, human rights, living wages, factory locations disclosures, and sustainability in its licensing operations. In addition, assess new programs and policies across the licensed product supply chain to ensure the Licensing Code of Conduct is reflective of the ever-evolving global industry. This includes periodic reviews of the Licensing Code of Conduct and defining necessary updates.
  1. Conduct meaningful analysis of whether manufacturers and licensees of the University’s licensed products are compliant with the Licensing Code of Conduct and recommend appropriate course of action when licensees or manufacturers are noncompliant.
  1. Participate in compliance-monitoring organizations with which the University may be affiliated; assess concerns about licensees raised by these organizations or through other governmental or non-governmental organizations; and recommend appropriate University actions in response.
  1. Determine when an exception to the Licensing Code of Conduct (including the process of evaluating and monitoring factories as described below) may be appropriate.


View the Final Report and Recommendations

The Worker Participation Committee's report includes the set of recommendations to amend the University’s Freedom of Association Policy.

Summary of Final Recommendations

The above slide deck summarizes the committee's five major recommendations.