Last year, Stanford Law’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic was asked by the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) to represent it by investigating the impact of the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) factory monitoring and reporting program. The WRC asked the clinic to look into the effects of BFC’s reports on the daily lives and working conditions of garment workers in Cambodia.

Clinic students and Stephan Sonnenberg, clinical lecturer, visited Phnom Penh twice during the 2011-2012 academic year as part of an on-site investigation. The clinic team conducted dozens of interviews with union representatives, factory owners, government representatives, and factory workers in Phnom Penh. They also visited workers’ homes and a factory. The clinic’s research, which will be released in a report this fall, highlights both the progress achieved by BFC as well as some significant ongoing deficiencies in both its mandate and effect.

“It became clear that one of the problems with the ILO/BFC reports is a lack of transparency,” says Kristina Green, JD ’13, who participated in the clinic last spring. “Workers report poor conditions to BFC, but then they don’t see changes. That leads to dissatisfaction, unrest, and a distrust of the organization.”

“Our primary advocacy objective for the project is to contribute to a complex problem-solving effort,” says Sonnenberg. As a result, the study focuses largely on the way the BFC program is designed and makes recommendations for improvements. “The conclusion we drew is that its reports must be transparent and available to everyone.”

To learn more about this and other IHRCR Clinic projects, go to