Human Rights and Business: Is the United Nations Helping?

I wrote about my early impressions of the Annual United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights and I meant to keep writing further thoughts at the end of each day. But I failed to live up to my early promise! A week later I have had more time to think about my experiences of the Forum and have now published a piece in Lacuna Magazine entitled “Human Rights and Business: Is the United Nations Helping?”  In it, I reflect on the human rights challenges posed by global business activity, which appear even greater after recent Brexit and US election results. I talk about the inspiration I found at the Forum in the work of dedicated individuals fighting bravely and creatively for change. But I also discuss my concerns about the role being played by the United Nations on business and human rights.

I have one further thought to add today in light of Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He said that instead the US would “negotiate fair bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry back onto American shores”. This kind of rhetoric which equates ‘fairness’ with national interest is what fills the vacuum if we cannot articulate a version of globalization that benefits all. Human rights could be an important part of that story. It is sad that currently it sits on the margins. I will write more in the coming weeks about how that could change…

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