Multinational Corporations and Human Rights
March 4, 2013
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store and Amnesty International are pleased to welcome JOHN RUGGIE, the Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights and International Affairs at Harvard's Kennedy School, for a discussion of his book Just Business: Multinational Corporations and Human Rights.
One of the most vexing human rights issues of our time has been how to protect the rights of individuals and communities worldwide in an age of globalization and multinational business. Indeed, from Indonesian sweatshops to oil-based violence in Nigeria, the challenges of regulating harmful corporate practices in some of the world’s most difficult regions long seemed insurmountable. Human rights groups and businesses were locked in a stalemate, unable to find common ground. In 2005, the United Nations appointed John Ruggie to the modest task of clarifying the main issues. Six years later, he had accomplished much more than that. Ruggie had developed his now-famous "Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights," which provided a road map for ensuring responsible global corporate practices. The principles were unanimously endorsed by the UN and embraced and implemented by other international bodies, businesses, governments, workers’ organizations, and human rights groups, keying a revolution in corporate social responsibility.
Just Business tells the powerful story of how these landmark “Ruggie Rules” came to exist. Ruggie demonstrates how, to solve a seemingly unsolvable problem, he had to abandon many widespread and long-held understandings about the relationships between businesses, governments, rights, and law, and develop fresh ways of viewing the issues. He also takes us through the journey of assembling the right type of team, of witnessing the severity of the problem firsthand, and of pressing through the many obstacles such a daunting endeavor faced.
“Business and human rights challenges became permanently implanted on the global policy agenda twenty years ago. However, there was no universally accepted framework to address or reduce corporate-related human rights harm. John Ruggie took up the challenge to fill that gap and achieved a great deal in a short space of time. It is all too easy when looking at seemingly intractable problems to believe that nothing can be done or that only governments or political leaders can act. Just Business shows us the opposite and underlines how all segments of society must play their part to achieve results that benefit all.” —Kofi Annan
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