John Morrison is the Executive Director of the Institute for Human Rights and Business.
John Morrison has extensive experience working with leading companies on issues of corporate responsibility and human rights. He worked previously with The Body Shop International plc and led the Business Leaders Initiative on Human Rights from 2003 to 2009. He has also worked for a number of civil society and governmental organisations on issues of migration, human trafficking and forced labour.
John has acted as an advisor to a number of governments during their presidencies of intergovernmental organisations and has chaired a wide range of conferences and initiatives in many parts of the world.
New trade agreements between French President Francois Hollande and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani are the latest in a string of trade and investment plans developing across European capitals and beyond, following easing of international sanctions against Iran at the end of January.
As 2016 began to unfold, so did the question of when was the right time to lift international sanctions against Iran. It turned out to be just after the UN atomic watchdog (the IAEA) issued its conclusions on January 16th 2016 that Iran had fulfilled its obligations under a landmark July 2015 nuclear agreement.
Major sports bodies face a growing crisis of legitimacy. Earlier this month, world football’s governing body FIFA,dismissed its secretary general for alleged involvement in profiting from the sale of World Cup tickets. A day later, the investigation into doping within Russian athletics concluded that officials at the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) "could not have been unaware of the extent of doping in athletics".
IHRB's Executive Director John Morrison attended the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) joint meeting of the Human Dimension and Economic and Environment Commitees on 11 December 2015 in Vienna.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to be endorsed by world leaders in New York this week, represent a unique opportunity for greater global prosperity – but only if businesses and governments know when to stop competing and instead start working together.
The Global Compact Network Australia and the Australian Human Rights Commission are convening Australia's second national multi-stakeholder, multisector dialogue on business and human rights.
John Morrison: Business and the UN Sustainable Development Goals: How Can We Deepen Scale and Impact?
The role of the private sector in realizing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is widely recognized. What remains unclear is how exactly business should contribute most effectively and responsibly to the broad development objectives that government leaders will adopt this September.
Making Collective Governance Work – Lessons from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative
“Beyond Governments” is a rare thing – a book written on collective governance by practitioners who are still in the midst of practicing the art.
John Morrison was invited by the University of Nottingham Human Rights Law Centre to discuss More Effective Engagement between the Europea
For a company that started out in the 1880s selling the world’s first branded soap made of the oil from pine kernels, Unilever plc. has come a long way. Today, Unilever has a global reach, and many of us likely use one or more of its products at some point each day.
Improving Corporate Accountability, the role of indicators and public benchmarks.
Friday, 19 June 2015 from 13:00 to 14:30 (CEST) | Paris , France
Trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants
Every five years policy-makers and practitioners working in crime prevention and criminal justice gather for the United Nations Crime Congress to help shape the agenda and standards of the UN on crime prevention and criminal justice.
What Have We Achieved So Far? Reflections on 2nd anniversary of the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business
2015 is a big year for Myanmar, with Parliamentary elections due in November after which the next President will be chosen. Experts suggest we can expect the election process to be generally free and fair, albeit under the Constitution Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is forbidden from holding the office of President and 25% of parliamentary seats will remain with serving military officers.
The Institute for Human Rights and Business and Palgrave MacMillan (the publisher) co-organised a London launch and panel discussion on John Morrison's new book "The Social License" on 29 September 2014.
This is the first contribution in a series. Despite the progress of recent years in advancing understanding and action on the relationship between business and human rights, gaps in legal accountability continues to be a subject of much heated debate.
Business and Ethics in Globalized Value Chains – To what extent is ethical responsibility enforceable and manageable?
"There is little doubt that, driven mainly by the private sector, the development of digital communications and the Internet has had a largely beneficial effect both in economic and social terms. But new challenges have emerged. Efforts to translate the Guiding Principles into ICT sector operations are now underway.
Various initiatives by multi-stakeholder platforms, businesses, governments and trade unions in Europe have undertaken activities aimed at working towards a living wage in international supply chains. Nevertheless, questions still remain referring to best practices to integrate the living wage concept into corporate strategy and the implementation in supplier factories on the ground.
On 4 September, the UK Government will launch its much-anticipated National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights. It is an important landmark - greater UK policy coherence is important for furthering the protection of human rights.
Last week, the United States Supreme Court ruled, by a majority of 5-4, that the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 was unconstitutional. That law stipulated that the state would recognize a union as “marriage” only if it is between a man and a woman. The rationale was political – to keep same-sex relationships outlawed.
CINMIPETROL International Congress of Mining and Petroleum: "Business and Human Rights: The International Perspective"
It is a great honour for me to speak at this important gathering in the distinguished presence of His Excellency, the President of Colombia. Business and human rights is an emerging agenda that has grown in importance in the past two decades, and Mr. President, your government has played a critical role in ensuring that Colombia remains an important participant in that conversation.
Tomorrow British Prime Minister David Cameron will deliver a much-anticipated speech on the UK’s future in the European Union (EU). The Prime Minister’s views, as well as a likely referendum, have resulted in pre-emptive statements from other world leaders and captains of industry. Self-determination is a human right, but what is the relevance of human rights beyond this?
On this International Migrants Day, we are reminded of the plight of migrant workers around the globe, whether they are working in cities in their home countries or overseas. Only recently, Bangladesh witnessed the tragic blaze at the Tazreen Fashion factory in Ashulia where rural migrants were among those who died.
The following letter was published in the The Financial Times on Tuesday 20th November 2012:
"Policymakers are faced with difficult choices: whether some aspects of internet content should be censored, including self-censorship by content providers, and what rules and processes might be developed that not only protect freedom of expression but also the rights of those most vulnerable to abuse."
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime conservatively estimates that 2.5 million individuals around the world are the victims of human trafficking at any one time. In absolute terms, this figure is shocking but all the more so in a world where human exploitation has been diminishing.
"The Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) is working with the Danish Institute for Human Rights on a new initiative to develop a resource centre with partners in Burma to help business, government, civil society and trade unions apply the UN Guiding Principles and other relevant international standards to the many challenges ahead."
"There are issues in the hotel and catering sector. The Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB), together with the Anti-Slavery International, has called for greater protection for workers in this sector through the Staff Wanted Initiative and for hotels to undertake greater due diligence of all third parties through which they subcontract."
"The fact that US companies will need to report on their human rights risks and impacts is unprecedented and sets a benchmark for responsible investment. All those committed to ensuring that this new interest in Myanmar remains a permanent one must work to ensure the standards of transparency are set high and that other governments follow suit."
"Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been based largely on the assumption that the business case always aligns with the societal case as long as enough philanthropy is dispensed. The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, agreed by consensus in 2011, move us significantly beyond this idea."
A version of this letter appeared in print on May 24, 2012, on page 67 of the London Evening Standard: Dear Editor, Your article (22 May) on the InterContinental Hotels Group's bold step in being the first major hotel chain in London to endorse a living wage points to an important and often under reported subject - the status of the many staff who work in the capital’s hotel industry.
The 2011 revision of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (“the OECD Guidelines”) represents a significant development and an opportunity for all parties to the OECD process – governments, civil society, trade unions and businesses – to improve the protection of and respect for human rights.
Under pressure, Apple has opened the doors of its troubled Chinese factories to inspection by labor investigators. Now not only Apple but its proposed monitor, the Fair Labor Association, are coming under scrutiny: Observers are challenging whether the FLA, which has corporate members and accepts corporate funding, can really be independent and deliver the bad news and sanctions those same companies might deserve.
IHRB Executive Director John Morrison was invited by Instituto Ideas para la Paz (FIP) to speak at a conference in Bogota, Colombia [5 pages, 386kb] on 26 October 2011.
Media coverage of last week’s Labour conference speech by Ed Miliband, in which the UK opposition leader criticised “predatory” companies” prompted me to write to the Financial Times with the straightforward but too often forgotten message that even “good” companies can sometimes do “bad” things.
This letter was published in the The Financial Times on Thursday 29th September 2011.
We welcome a call for greater corporate responsibility from a UK party leader (Miliband’s business crusade draws fire, September 28) but worry that Mr Miliband is being overly simplistic in believing that lists of “good” and “bad” companies might easily be produced even with an overhaul of corporate governance.
"I would like to use my remarks today to reaffirm my conviction that responsible business, investment, trade and commerce can serve the greater good of society, and help promote peace within and between nations. In doing so, I will begin by suggesting that it is worth looking back briefly at what history teaches us about how peace and greater protection of human rights is achieved.
Economic growth and prosperity have lifted millions of people out of poverty since China reformed its economy four decades ago. A peaceful, stable, and prosperous China is in the interest of the world. At the same time, China has enormous human rights challenges.
It is not unknown for business leaders to call for increased or better regulation in relation to environmental or social issues. In 2002, Mark Moody-Stuart (the former CEO of Shell and Chair of Anglo-American) led the business call for a binding global agreement on renewable energy at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.
For the first time in its history, the United Nations has agreed a framework to address the human rights impacts of business activities around the world. The UN’s achievement will be discussed this evening at an event in the UK Parliament co-organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group on International Corporate Responsibility and IHRB.
"I will try and echo the experiences of business around the world – that were directly reported in our own research at the Institute for Human Rights and Business – including our work in key emerging economies where the business case, perhaps, matters most."
The outcome of this week’s election in the UK (6 May 2010) looks as if it will be close. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the links between human rights and business are not prominent in the manifestos of any of the main parties. But corporate responsibility and accountability clearly are issues that will have to be addressed by whichever party takes office.
The emerging policy and practice arena of “Business and human rights” has become a relay race in which states have largely been observers rather than athletes on the track. There have been some notable exceptions, but generally governments have been happy to let business, civil society and trade unions work it out for themselves.
Our commentary on the Trafigura case highlights how a combination of weak governance and business expediency can result in negative impacts on human rights. But what exactly should business do to prevent such situations arising in the first place?