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IHRB Publications: Op-Eds

Prince Zeid Raad al Hussein

The Human Rights Commissioner needs to get down to business
22 July 2014 | OpenDemocracy.net
by Scott Jerbi and Salil Tripathi
Amidst many priorities, the High Commissioner must focus on the problem of ensuring companies respect human rights, at a moment when a hard fought consensus on how to do so is at risk of unravelling.

Mary Robinson

Women's Leadership Can Transform the Way We Do Business in a Climate-Constrained World
07 March 2014 | Huffington Post
by Mary Robinson, IHRB Patron
As a global community, we find ourselves at a critical juncture. One path -- the "business as usual" route -- sees us approach a drastically warmer world, where our continuing reliance on fossil fuels will make this planet a cruelly inhospitable place for our children and grandchildren. The other path is the route towards opportunity and truly sustainable development. The route that gives future generations the same chances to grow and prosper as so many of us in the developed world have enjoyed...

Honoring Nelson Mandela and Remembering, 'It Always Seems Impossible Until It's Done'

Honoring Nelson Mandela and Remembering, 'It Always Seems Impossible Until It's Done'
06 December 2013 | www.coca-colacompany.com
by John Morrison, IHRB Executive Director
On this Human Rights Day, we remember the life of Nelson Mandela and recall the importance of his leadership in advancing the human rights movement both in South Africa and around the world. I wonder what other human rights icons that inspired so many like Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi would think of our time? What would they say we should be doing better or differently to make human rights a reality for all?

How do the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises apply to investors?

How do the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises apply to investors?
07 October 2013 | ResponsibleInvestor.com
by Margaret Wachenfeld, IHRB Director of Legal Affairs
Recent decisions clarify investor responsibility to address human rights concerns, writes Margaret Wachenfeld, IHRB Director of Legal Affairs. The underlying tenet of the UN Guiding Principles and the OECD Guidelines is that all businesses, including and especially state-owned enterprises, have a responsibility to respect human rights – and that includes the financial sector and investors.

Making public-private partnerships work

Making public-private partnerships work
11 September 2013 | Trust.org
by Prof. John Ruggie, IHRB Chair
Proponents of public-private partnerships argue that, if well designed, they can be a more effective strategy than traditional top-down regulatory measures, which have often proven ill equipped to respond to many collective action problems. Others point to numerous obstacles facing such efforts, including difficulties in achieving consensus, imbalances in power and capacity among the various actors involved, as well as questions regarding their social and political legitimacy.

Engaging business in human rights
10 December 2012 | World Economic Forum Blog
by Mary Robinson
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “all organs of society” have human rights responsibilities. The good news is that a broad global consensus exists on what these responsibilities mean for business. In 2011, the UN adopted Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the final product of a six-year multistakeholder effort led by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Professor John Ruggie...

Dark Side of Free Speech
12 November 2012 | YaleGlobal Online
by John Morrison, IHRB Executive Director
Old hatreds and sectarian violence emerge with new freedom of expression in divided Burma: Burma, known as Myanmar since 1989, has among the lowest mobile-phone penetration in the world, about 5 percent of the population. Better networks, less expensive phones, offer an enormous upside in human rights terms, provided that the freedom of expression and privacy of users are respected.

ICT: tapping and phone hacking in eastern Europe
09 November 2012 | The Guardian
by Lucy Purdon
An investigative documentary broadcast on Swedish television earlier this year reported that the regimes in Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Belarus were utilising Swedish telecommunications giant TeliaSonera's technology to monitor communications of citizens and ultimately suppress dissent.

Human Rights Challenges Amidst Myanmar's Gold Rush
09 October 2012 | Business Times
by Mahdev Mohan, Lan Shiow Tsai, & Salil Tripathi
At first blush, Myanmar appears to be on a path towards democratization. It is important for the international community to support Myanmar’s journey. But investors should also understand their investment risks and live up to their responsibility to protect and respect human rights. In several countries in the past, large infrastructure and extractive sector projects have led to significant human rights abuses, including, in some cases, forced labour, displacement and land-grabbing...

Business must do more to protect the world's most vulnerable workers
05 October 2012 | Guardian.co.uk
by John Morrison, IHRB Executive Director and Neill Wilkins, Programme Officer
At this week's Labour Party Conference in Manchester, Ed Miliband, the UK opposition leader, said the time had come to tackle abuses of worker rights. He pledged to "crack down on employers who don't pay the minimum wage" and to "end the shady practices, in the construction industry and elsewhere, of gangmasters" if he came to power. These are welcome commitments and should be seen as non-partisan issues...

Burma: first steps for investment of western capital
31 July 2012 | Guardian.co.uk
by John Morrison, IHRB Executive Director
Burma represents a test of much of what has been written about the social impact of business, and piloted elsewhere. Given the history of sanctions which until recently kept western capital out of the country, the social impact of this capital in Burma will be tangible. There will be no place in Burma for self-promoting corporate social responsibility (CSR) or cultural relativism. Instead companies will need to align their social interventions to international norms...

Sports sponsorship and Human Rights Due Diligence: An Olympian Dilemma
Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights, Vol. 30/2, 133–136, 2012
by Salil Tripathi, IHRB Policy Director
The Olympic Games will begin in July in London. What are the responsibilities of the organisers in deciding who they should take sponsorship money from? Organisers of the London Olympics realised they had to confront the question when they found rising international activism and criticism when it was revealed that the American company, Dow Chemical, was one of the sponsors of the Games...

Business responsibility for its social impacts: moving beyond CSR
25 June 2012 | guardian.co.uk
by John Morrison, IHRB Executive Director
Businesses have a responsibility for all their impacts and for preventing human rights harms, whilst ensuring that adequate remedies are available when abuses occur...


Making the market a force for good
25 June 2012 | guardian.co.uk
by Saba Salman
Many companies already understand the important role they play in supporting the wellbeing of communities, but what can be done to ensure social responsibility becomes a key part of corporate strategy?

Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi signals change in Burma, but investors should proceed with caution
19 June 2012 | The Christian Science Monitor
by John Ruggie, IHRB Chair
Changes in Myanmar (Burma) are hopeful. Aung San Suu Kyi, once the country's most famous prisoner, is visiting Britain for the first time in 24 years. But foreign investors operating in Myanmar will still face challenges upholding international standards for human rights.

Winnie the Pooh

The hidden impacts of large infrastructure projects on children
3 May 2012 | guardian.co.uk
by Margaret Wachenfeld, IHRB Senior Legal Advisor
People swarm towards big infrastructure projects like bees to honey, but the interests of children are often overlooked. Though conjuring up images of Winnie the Pooh, the honeypot effect when applied to construction means that when large projects begin, people will come, attracted like bees to honey, in their droves. This can be seen in the arrival of skilled and unskilled workers, migrant workers, and the many subsidiary services both legitimate and illegitimate, that come too.

Market in Myanmar

Uneven road to doing business in Burma
19 April 2012 | guardian.co.uk
by Salil Tripathi, IHRB Policy Director
Foreign businesses face formidable challenges in making sure their investments in Burma are not only profitable but also based on internationally accepted principles. Given the current mood, the question is no longer whether business should invest in Burma – sanctions will eventually get lifted – but how?

Kenyan Schoolchildren

Children's rights are finally getting the attention they deserve
30 March 2012 | guardian.co.uk
by Margaret Wachenfeld, IHRB Senior Legal Advisor
Children's rights are finally getting the attention they deserve on the corporate responsibility agenda. An annual survey of key emerging business and human rights issues in 2012 included child rights for the first time. This recognition of children as an important contingent in the broader human rights and business discussion has been a long time coming.


What should companies do when states offer prime land on a platter?
06 March 2012 | guardian.co.uk
by Salil Tripathi and Wambui Kimathi
Companies investing in land in Africa and elsewhere need guidelines to ensure the human rights and dignity of local communities are protected. During a recent visit to Kampala, Uganda, we heard multiple stories of people being forced to move because the government or local business wanted to acquire land they had inhabited for generations...


Is the Organization Investigating Apple's Factories Good Enough?
05 March 2012 | Forbes
by Christine Bader and John Morrison
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...


The Dow side of corporate sponsorship
22 February 2012 | The Hindu
by Salil Tripathi, IHRB Policy Director
Dow Chemical got it wrong if it thought when it acquired the worldwide assets of Union Carbide that it wouldn't have to deal with the legacy of the 1984 Bhopal disaster that killed thousands of people. Persistent campaigning by Indian civil society groups and international human rights organisations has made sure that what happened in Bhopal 28 years ago is not forgotten. ...

The Daily Star

Protecting Migrant Workers: Cleaning up recruitment and return practices
28 June 2011 | The Daily Star
by Irene Khan
As tens of thousands of Bangladeshi workers fled the conflict in Libya, their plight exposed the vulnerability of migrant labour. It also laid bare the gaps in protecting the human rights of migrant workers. In today's globalised world millions of people work outside their own borders. But across the entire spectrum of migration -- from recruitment to employment to return -- they face exploitation and abuse...

China Deals must not cost Human Rights

China Deals 'Must Not Cost Human Rights'
27 June 2011 | Sky News
by John Morrison
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.

John Morrison

Human Rights: The case for regulation
26 June 2011 | L4BB Blog
by John Morrison, IHRB Executive Director
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...

Ignore the naysayers, restrictions on DRC conflict minerals remain vital
10 August 2011 | guardian.co.uk
by Salil Tripathi
US legislation to encourage transparency in the trade of precious resources might mean a loss of income for Congo's artisanal miners, but the alternative is prolonged conflict...

Ethical Corporation

How the Global Compact can better address human rights
26 April 2010 | Ethical Corporation
by Mary Robinson
The Institute for Human Rights and Business will soon release a human rights review of the Global Compact. Mary Robinson asks for stakeholder ideas as to how the Compact may become better attuned to human rights concerns...


Politorbis: Dealing with the Past
March 2010 | Swiss Federal Dept of Foreign Affairs
by Swiss Federal Dept of Foreign Affairs
The Swiss Federal Dept of Foreign Affairs publishes the journal Politorbis several times a year. Its 50th issue (3/2010) is about "Dealing with the Past." [208 pages, 2.13mb] The issue focuses on grave crimes during armed conflict...

Everybody's Business
23 May 2008 | guardian.co.uk
by Mark Taylor and Salil Tripathi
When the Rome statute of the international criminal court (ICC) was signed, Maurice Nyberg, an American lawyer who had investigated crimes against humanity in Rwanda, presciently noted that the new court could "create international criminal liability for employees, officers and directors of corporations"...

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