Commentary

The Power of Collective Investor Action to Safeguard Human Rights

We are living in a time of tremendous upheaval, and also great promise.

From existential threats like the ravages of climate change that threaten public health and global water and food supplies, to an unprecedented migrant and refugee crisis...

26 October 2017

By David Schilling, Senior Program Director, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

Standing Rock Sioux - A Model for Protection of Planet and its People

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe met with representatives of Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) on October 30, 2014 and learned of their plans to build the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a 1,172 pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois that would carry...

21 December 2016

By David Schilling, Senior Program Director, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

Why Does the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark Matter?

The Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) aims to measure the human rights performance of the world’s 500 largest publicly listed companies. Nearly three years in the making, the CHRB is in a critical phase of its evolution.

All of the...

08 November 2016

By John Morrison, Chief Executive, IHRB

Draghi Must Accept ECB Contributes to Inequality

This letter was originally published in the Financial Times (subscription needed).

Sir, We were intrigued to read your report, “Draghi makes appeal for those left behind” (September 14, subscription needed), on the speech by Mario Draghi, president...

20 September 2016

By Motoko Aizawa, Daniel Bradlow, Professor of International Development Law and African Economic Relations, University of Pretoria

Impact Investing - A New Player in Protecting Human Rights?

This commentary was originally published on openDemocracy.

In 2007, the Rockefeller Foundation devised the term “impact investing”, officially inaugurating a new era in finance and development.

This form of investing channel funds privately to...

27 July 2016

By Motoko Aizawa

Where have the UN Guiding Principles Taken Us and Where Do We Go Next? 

On June 16, 2016, IHRB and the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) co-organised a commemorative event to mark the five-year anniversary of the unanimous adoption of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs)....

20 June 2016

By Motoko Aizawa, Sara Blackwell, Legal and Policy Coordinator, ICAR

Central banks and human rights - Signs of alignment

This commentary was originally published on RightingFinance and reproduced here with permission.

The work of central banks is not easily understood and often takes place out of direct public view. Equipped with traditional macroeconomic tools of...

13 May 2016

By Motoko Aizawa

Designing a Better Global Financial System – Why Do Human Rights Matter?

How would you design a global financial system that is fit for purpose in the 21st century? What steps are required to ensure more inclusive and sustainable financial decision-making that can serve the needs of economies and societies? 

Over the...

11 February 2016

By Margaret Wachenfeld, Managing Director, Themis Research; Senior Research Fellow, IHRB

Evolving Expectations: The role of Export Credit Agencies in promoting and exemplifying responsible

Export Credit Agencies are a significant source of global financing and insurance, specifically with regard to financing of large scale projects and business opportunities in developing countries.  

For example the Economist Intelligence Unit...

11 January 2016

Five Things that can Promote Transparency in Public-Private Partnerships

This article was originally published on Heinrich Böll Foundation North America.

Transparency is an important but easily overlooked agenda in the mix of challenges facing Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) that aim to tackle a range of development...

12 November 2015

By Motoko Aizawa

Government Approval Not Enough, Businesses Need Social License

This article was originally published on YaleGlobal Online

Globalization drives business deals around the globe along with keen new awareness about social, environmental and other consequences of development. Best business practice now demands...

22 October 2014

By John Morrison, Chief Executive, IHRB

Business and Society: Defining the ’Social License’

This article, by IHRB Executive Director John Morrison, was originally published in The Guardian on 29 September 2014.

Business leaders, politicians and civil society set a common direction towards new global agreements on climate change at the UN...

01 October 2014

By John Morrison, Chief Executive, IHRB

Women’s Leadership Can Transform the Way We Do Business in a Climate-Constrained World

This article was originally published in the HuffingtonPost.

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...

07 May 2014

By Mary Robinson, Patron, IHRB

How the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises Relate to Investors

This op-Ed was originally published on ResponsibleInvestor.com.

"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...

07 October 2013

By Margaret Wachenfeld, Managing Director, Themis Research; Senior Research Fellow, IHRB

Making Public-Private Partnerships Work

This op-ed was originally published on Thomson Reuters Foundation News channel trust.org.

A full agenda awaits business executives, government officials and civil society representatives attending next week’s U.N. Global Compact leaders summit in...

11 September 2013

By John Ruggie, Patron, IHRB

Taxing Human Rights?

"The governments of developing countries urgently need to increase their tax bases so that public services - key to fulfilling basic rights and tackling poverty - are available for all. The taxes levied on multinational corporations operating in...

01 May 2013

By Rachel Noble

Progress in Corporate Accountability

Last week Human Rights Watch released its 2013 World Report. It includes an essay by Senior Researcher Christopher Albin-Lackey decrying the hard won and widely adopted UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (GPs) as being “woefully...

04 February 2013

By John Ruggie, Patron, IHRB

Burma: First Steps for Investment of Western Capital

This op-Ed was originally published on TheGuardian.com.

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...

05 October 2012

By John Morrison, Chief Executive, IHRB

Business Reponsibility for its Social Impacts - Moving Beyond CSR

This op-Ed was originally published on TheGuardian.com.

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...

25 June 2012

By John Morrison, Chief Executive, IHRB

Making the Market a Force for Good

This op-Ed was originally published on TheGuardian.com.

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...

25 June 2012

By Saba Salmon, Freelance social affairs journalist, commissioning editor and blogger, and regular contributor to Society Guardian

Aung San Suu Kyi Signals Change in Burma, but Investors Should Proceed with Caution

This op-Ed was originally published on Csmonitor.com.

The recent decision by the Obama administration to ease economic sanctions on Myanmar (also known as Burma) presents an important opportunity to reintegrate that country into the international...

19 June 2012

By John Ruggie, Patron, IHRB

What Should Companies do when States Offer Prime Land on a Platter?

This op-Ed was originally published on TheGuardian.com.

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...

06 May 2012

By Wambui Kimathi, Salil Tripathi, Senior Advisor, Global Issues, IHRB

Uneven Road to Doing Business in Burma

This op-Ed was originally published on TheGuardian.com.

Foreign businesses face formidable challenges in making sure their investments in Burma are not only profitable but also based on internationally accepted principles

Businesses are...

19 April 2012

By Salil Tripathi, Senior Advisor, Global Issues, IHRB

Children’s Rights Finally Getting the Attention they Deserve

This op-Ed was originally published on TheGuardian.com.

Recognition of children as important in the broader human rights and business discussion has been a long time coming

Children's rights are finally getting the attention they deserve on the...

30 March 2012

By Margaret Wachenfeld, Managing Director, Themis Research; Senior Research Fellow, IHRB

The Dow Side of Corporate Sponsorship

This op-Ed was originally published on TheHindu.com.

Coke and GE then, Dow now.

But there is a crucial difference: no one was accusing companies sponsoring the Beijing Games of being complicit in human rights abuses in Darfur. In Dow's case, many...

22 February 2012

By Salil Tripathi, Senior Advisor, Global Issues, IHRB

Robinson and Ruggie bring a lot to the table

Jack Ucciferri doesn’t mince words. His op ed in the Huffington Post laments a world facing a “fundamental democratic deficit” with leaders who “don’t seem able to discern what the people are saying.”

We share Mr. Ucciferri’s impatience with...

27 October 2011

By John Morrison, Chief Executive, IHRB

One Day in South Africa, Two Events, and a Major Milestone for Financial Institutions

Johannesburg, July 19, 2011. I wish I could have been in two places at once.

On that day, I was part of a workshop, convened by the law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, the University of Witwatersrand, and the Institute for Human Rights and Business, on...

03 August 2011

By Motoko Aizawa

Cash, Crisis, Conscience: How can the financial sector ensure it respects human rights?

When I speak with bankers, they all say they want financial institutions to be recognized as respected members of society. Is it enough for the sector to be able to better address risks management, ESG sustainability, business ethics, and...

18 July 2011

By Motoko Aizawa

Universal Children’s Day - End the Worst Forms of Child Labour

November 20 marks Universal Children’s Day. Established by the United Nations over 50 years ago, it is a day to encourage countries to initiate action to promote the welfare of children. This year Anti-Slavery International is calling upon the...

18 November 2010

By Joanna Ewart-James, Supply Chain Co-ordinator, Anti-Slavery International

Are Current Approaches to Responsible Supply Chain Management Working?

Sustainable or responsible supply chain management (RSCM) emerged in the 1990s as an important part of the corporate responsibility (or corporate social responsibility - CSR) discourse. Over the past two decades, leading corporations have...

12 August 2010

By Sune Skadegaard Thorsen, CEO of GLOBAL CSR

Where is CSR Heading?

The global economic crisis has shaken the manufacturing industry to its core over the last couple of years, and the impact on workers has been palpable around the world.

The economic and social turmoil placed a tremendous responsibility on all of...

21 July 2010

Checking in on Corporate Human Rights Reporting

At the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) biennial conference last week, one of the sessions was dedicated to “the Future of Human Rights Reporting”. The panelists, drawn from diverse sectors, covered a wide range of issues.

These included the...

31 May 2010

By Elizabeth Umlas, Independent researcher and consultant

Further Steps Taken to Operationalise the Protect Respect and Remedy Framework

On 9 April the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on human rights and business, John Ruggie (the SRSG), issued his 2010 Progress Report [24 pages, 146kb] (the Report) on the operationalisation of the “protect, respect and remedy”...

25 May 2010

By Peter Muchlinski

Putting the Protect, Respect, Remedy Framework into Practice

Last week, the latest report under my mandate as Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary General on business and human rights was released in advance of the June session of the U.N. Human Rights Council. This is my last interim report before I...

29 April 2010

By John Ruggie, Patron, IHRB

Knowledge of Human Rights Risks - Company Friend or Enemy?

Is knowledge of human rights risks a company’s friend or its enemy? No one likes bad news, and messengers who deliver it may choose to do so gingerly. But it’s critically important for a company to investigate, understand, and act on facts - however...

03 March 2010

By John Sherman, Senior Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Financial Reform - Making the Human Rights Case

In announcing his financial reform proposals last week, US President Barack Obama pledged: “never again will the American taxpayer be held hostage by a bank that is too big to fail.

This commitment underlies his proposals for regulatory reform of...

27 January 2010

By Mary Dowell-Jones, Research Fellow at the Human Rights Law Centre, University of Nottingham

Small Change - Why Business Won’t Save the World

What’s the best way for business to contribute to realizing human rights? I’ve been pondering that question over the last few days in the light of Google’s decision to oppose censorship and protect the email accounts of activists in China, going so...

19 January 2010

By Michael Edwards

Timberland - Business Willing to Engage but a Multi-Stakeholder Effort Needed

IHRB's Executive Director John Morrison wrote a compelling post in late September about the need for rapid scaling of progress on human rights – a view we wholeheartedly share. It has taken us 15 years to get to where we are – to create what can...

30 November 2009

By Jeffrey Swartz, President & CEO, The Timberland Company

The Business of Migration - Migrant Worker Rights in a Time of Financial Crisis

The Institute for Human Rights and Business is embarking on a three-year process of addressing the role of the private sector in migrant worker protection. The increased risk of abuse of migrants’ rights within the current financial crisis, coupled...

06 October 2009

By Frances House, Deputy Chief Executive, IHRB

Operationalising Human Rights - How Hard are Companies Trying? 

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?

...

29 September 2009

By John Morrison, Chief Executive, IHRB