What’s New

  • UN Office Geneva
    Permalink Gallery

    LAB Fellows to speak at UN Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights

LAB Fellows to speak at UN Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights

From 25-27 November 2019 the UN will host its Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights. LSE LAB  Visiting Fellows Andrea Shemberg and Andrea Saldarriaga, along with the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, the Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) and the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI) are organising a panel discussion at the Forum on implementing the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in investment policy. 

The session, which will be held from 9:00 – 10:30 am on 26 November at the UN Palais in Geneva, has several aims. First, the session will help those attending the Forum to understand the full spectrum of expectations described in the UNGPs regarding States and investment policy making at the regional, national and international levels.

The Fellows will offer their views based on the Guide published by the Investment & Human Rights Project at the LAB on that topic.  Second, the panel will offer a review of what some States have been doing in practical terms to achieve such implementation. And finally, the panel discussion will also look towards the future by discussing cutting-edge ideas about how States might harness international investment agreement reform to strengthen access to remedy and corporate accountability for investment-related human rights abuses.

Surya Deva of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights will moderate the panel, and Elisabeth Tuerk from the UN Conference on Trade and Development will join panelists from the LSE LAB, CCSI and SEATINI.

The UN Forum is free and open to the public. Registration is required.

LSE LAB Fellows Shemberg and Saldarriaga have designed and participated in panel discussions at every UN Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights since they began […]

  • Permalink Gallery

    New Case Study on human rights challenges in the construction sector in Qatar

New Case Study on human rights challenges in the construction sector in Qatar

Over the course of 2019, LSE Laboratory for Advanced Research on the Global Economy Visiting Fellows Andrea Saldarriaga and Andrea Shemberg, in collaboration with Anna Triponel and Krystel Bassil, created a unique case study based on the experience of the French construction company VINCI in Qatar.

The case study was created with the agreement and involvement of the company, yet the voices of external stakeholders were fundamental to the design and editing of the case study, and full editorial control was left to the authors. The case study is based on close to 40 interviews of people within the company and other stakeholders such as investors, civil society and trade union representatives. The story relates to VINCI’s work in Qatar, the human rights challenges in that geography and the company response to a law suit filed in France by Sherpa, an NGO, for alleged human rights impacts in Qatar.

The case study was designed to help students in law, business, human rights and other related fields learn about business and human rights challenges, human rights due diligence in practice and evaluate the company’s reaction to the law suit brought by civil society. The case study contains deep detail about how VINCI worked in Qatar as well as the process that led to the initial response to the law suit brought by Sherpa.

A Teachers’ Note accompanies the case study, as does a set of exhibits. The case study can be used in a number of different ways by educators and practitioners, and the materials provided would allow users to use the case either in a short number of hours or even over a period of several weeks of classes or a semester.

The case study is now in its pilot […]

  • Permalink Gallery

    Human Rights Impact Assessments of Trade Agreements – new report from Chatham House

Human Rights Impact Assessments of Trade Agreements – new report from Chatham House

On 26 February, I chaired a discussion at Chatham House in London on human rights impact assessments (HRIA) of trade agreements. The basis for the discussion was a report authored by Dr. Jennifer Zerk, Chatham House Associate Fellow in the International Law Programme. This important report very usefully outlines the substantial challenges of carrying out HRIAs of whole trade agreements in a manner that yields useful data that can convincingly help policymakers design trade agreements that embed respect for human rights and protect the most vulnerable members of society.

Despite the thrust of the report, which was demonstrating the weaknesses in using HRIAs for whole trade agreements, Dr. James Harrison of the University of Warwick School of Law provided several examples of successful HRIAs where they have helped policymakers understand the impacts of trade provisions. However, as he clearly pointed out, those successful assessments have all been carried out in very specific contexts regarding either one set of trade provisions or a specific government measure. Additionally, successful HRIAs have often looked at a subset of human rights issues over time.

Richard James, the Evaluation Co-ordinator for the Directorate-General for Trade of the European Commission, described the evolution in the thinking at the Commission and some ways forward to improve the actual impact of the assessments being carried out. As of yet, however, there seems to be little evidence that the results of the impact assessments being carried out at EU level have directly influenced the formulation of trade policy.

In my view, ex ante HRIAs of an entire trade agreement just cannot deliver the kinds of data that can effectively help design human rights compliant trade policy. Consider just these three challenges:

HRIAs cannot address investment parts […]

LSE LAB at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights

On 26, 27 and 28 November 2018, almost 3,000 participants from government, business, civil society, UN bodies, trade unions, academia and the media, gathered in Geneva at the seventh edition of the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights to discuss trends, challenges and progress in advancing implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).

The emphasis of the Forum for 2018 “Business respect for human rights – building on what works” was the second pillar of the UNGPs, that is the corporate responsibility to respect human rights. The Forum focused on the requirement that companies exercise human rights due diligence to prevent adverse impacts on people, hosting discussions of emerging practices in different sectors and across value chains, and exploring what human rights due diligence implies in relation to specific human rights risks and impacts.

Andrea Saldarriaga and Andrea Shemberg, Visiting Fellows at the Laboratory for Advanced Research on the Global Economy, actively contributed to the Forum by organising and speaking in three sessions covering cutting-edge topics on the business and human rights agenda.

Responsible exit: As the sole speaker at the snapshot session “Exiting responsibly: respect for human rights in circumstances of urgent exit”, Andrea Saldarriaga used a short video produced with the Iran Business Responsibility Project (IBR) to highlight the importance for companies to address the impacts that leaving a market and reducing or winding up operations can have on people’s rights. While the business and human rights debate has been focused on key corporate decisions such as market entry, new investments or the launching of new products or services, less attention has been given to questions of sales and market exit – especially in circumstances of urgent exit.

Business lawyers and human rights due diligence: […]

  • Permalink Gallery

    Event: Can companies do business with Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory while respecting human rights?

Event: Can companies do business with Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory while respecting human rights?

14 November 2018  | 19.15 – 20.30  | LSE Alumni Theatre

 

 

On 1 February 2018, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights published its report on companies doing business in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). The report states that “…violations of human rights associated with the settlements are pervasive and devastating, reaching every facet of Palestinian life,” citing restrictions on movement, freedom of religion, education and land ownership faced by Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. It goes on to say that “[b]usinesses play a central role in furthering the establishment, maintenance and expansion of Israeli settlements,” and it describes the role of Israel in encouraging business to operate in settlements by providing financial incentives. Importantly, the report poses a set of live questions that governments, investors, companies, consumers and others should be asking:

Can companies do business with Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory while respecting human rights? If so, what are the criteria for judging whether they are doing so?

Please join us for a public event to discuss these questions and deepen our understanding of business and human rights in occupied territories.

Speakers:

• Peter Frankental, Economic Relations Programme Director Amnesty International, UK
• Dr. Jan Kleinheisterkamp, LSE Law Department, Transnational Law Project
• Phyllis Starkey, former MP and independent policy advisor
• Peter Webster, CEO of the EIRIS Foundation

Moderator: Andrea Shemberg, LSE Visiting Fellow, Laboratory for Advanced Research on the Global Economy

When: Wednesday 14 November 2018, 7:15 – 8:30 pm
Where: LSE New Academic Building, Alumni Theatre

RSVP* by 9 November 2018 to: law.events@lse.ac.uk

*Space is limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis

 

 

 

 

 

Human Rights at UNCTAD World Investment Forum

On 26 October 2018, Andrea Saldarriaga and Andrea Shemberg, Visiting Fellows at the Laboratory for Advanced Research on the Global Economy, participated in the World Investment Forum (WIF). The WIF is the global platform for investment and development organised by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) that brings together over 4,000 participants from 160 countries.

While the work of UNCTAD has in the recent years placed a special interest in how investment can contribute to sustainable development, the topic of human rights as a fundamental component of sustainable development still struggles to find a place among the discussions at the WIF. In a week-long Forum, only two sessions explicitly looked at human rights. Shemberg and Saldarriaga presented in both sessions.

The Other Infrastructure Gap: Sustainability

Andrea Shemberg spoke at a side-event organised by the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung Foundation about the push to build mega-infrastructure projects worldwide to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the human rights risks of such projects. The discussion focused on the role of international investment agreements, national laws and State-investor contracts might play in ensuring that the State right to regulate is respected in the context of such projects.  Shemberg spoke about the danger of simply pushing for mega-infrastructure in the name of meeting the SDGs, without regard to the quality of the investment and the design of the infrastructure, which must place a priority on avoiding and mitigating the negative impacts of such projects on the rights of people. She argued that the rhetoric around meeting the SDGs, which focuses on the dollar amount of infrastructure investment needed, risks blinding institutions, investors and States to the need to […]

Training for journalists on business and human rights

On October 9 Andrea Shemberg, Visiting Fellow at Laboratory for Advanced Research on the Global Economy, held a one-day training for journalists on business and human rights at the LSE. The objective of the training was to interest journalists in the subject matter, give them a basis of key concepts from which to work and help them identify where they can turn for research and expertise. Nine journalists attended the training.

  • Permalink Gallery

    OHCHR Expert Meeting on the Accountability and Remedy Project III

OHCHR Expert Meeting on the Accountability and Remedy Project III

On 20 and 21 September the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) hosted an expert meeting to  help set out the scope and methodology for the third phase of the Accountability and Remedy Project (ARP), which is focused on non-State-based grievance mechanisms (i.e. company-level and other third-party grievance mechanisms). The OHCHR has been working on the ARP initiative since 2014 to address the challenges that victims of human rights abuses face when business enterprises are involved. The ARP has received multiple mandates from the Human Rights Council to deliver rigorous and evidence-based guidance to States to improve implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in the area of access to remedy, in particular, to ensure a more effective system of remedies in cases of business involvement on human rights abuses. The ARP initiative is important not only for the evidence and insights it collects on remedy but also potentially for the development of international law. This work remains a high priority for the new UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, and continues to be watched and appreciated by the Human Rights Council.

Andrea Shemberg, Visiting Fellow at the Laboratory for Advanced Research on the Global Economy, participated on a research team with two researchers from the Alliance Manchester Business School to draft a scoping paper for the ARP III process. The purpose of the paper was to contribute to the OHCHR’s effort to map the current practices and challenges with respect to the use of non-state-based non-judicial grievance mechanisms (NSBGM) as a way of enhancing access to remedy in cases of adverse human rights impacts that are business-related, and to identify areas for further research, especially […]

The urgent need to rethink investment policymaking

In a 2015 submission for the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Expert Meeting on “The Transformation of the International Investment Agreement Regime”, Andrea Saldarriaga and Andrea Shemberg argued that much of the criticism levelled against international investment agreements (IIAs) and Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) actually reflected much wider disappointments and frustrations with what international investment was delivering (or failing to deliver) to people globally.

Read the full article here.

 

  • Permalink Gallery

    Chilean Delegation hosted by LSE Lab to discuss National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights

Chilean Delegation hosted by LSE Lab to discuss National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights

 

On 3 July Andrea Saldarriaga, Visiting Fellow at the Laboratory for Advanced Research on the Global Economy (Lab), hosted a delegation of representatives from the Chilean government, including both the Under-Secretary for the Economy and Business and President of the Social Responsibility Council for Sustainable Development and the Chilean Ambassador to the UK. The meeting addressed the Chilean National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights and explored possible avenues for effective implementation, including in the area of foreign investment. Dr. Jan Kleinheisterkamp, Associate Professor of Law at the LSE and Andrea Shemberg, Visiting Fellow at the Lab,  attended to provide their expertise. Other experts invited included Lise Johnson from the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, Suzanne Spears from Notre Dame Law School and Peter Frankental from Amnesty International UK. The meeting is one important piece of work that Saldarriaga is undertaking to build understanding around State implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.