UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights 10th anniversary marked with John Ruggie IBA LPRU podcast

Wednesday 16 June 2021

Image: ‘John Ruggie, Chairperson of the Forum during the United Nations Forum Business and Human Rights. 4 December 2012.’ by UN Geneva is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / Cropped from original

Ten years after the unanimous endorsement by the United Nations Human Rights Council of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), their author Professor John Ruggie (pictured) discusses the ever-changing landscape of human rights due diligence with the International Bar Association (IBA) Legal Policy & Research Unit (LPRU). He states, ‘What it means to act in the best interest of the company is going to expand. It’s going to include scrutinising and surveying a broader range of stakeholders.’ Listen to the conversation for free here.

In this first episode of a series of podcasts with IBA Director of Legal Projects, Sara Carnegie and IBA LPRU Senior Project Lawyer, Maria Pia Sacco on business and sustainability, Professor Ruggie discusses the:

  • role of lawyers in navigating the unique framework of soft and hard law created in the wake of the UNGPs;
  • potential global effects of European Union-wide legislation on mandatory human rights due diligence;
  • significant changes in the field of business and human rights; and
  • decline of shareholder primacy and the move towards stakeholder capitalism.

If implemented, the EU legislation – which will require businesses to carry out due diligence in relation to the potential human rights and environmental impacts of their operations and supply chains – will place new legal obligations upon companies operating in and across the EU.

Today, there is increased challenge on the purpose of the corporation, notably mentioned in the 2019 United States Business Round Table statement. Endorsed by the 200 largest companies in the US, it is stated in the document that, ‘while each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose, we share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders’.

Appointed in 2005 as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Business and Human Rights by the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Professor Ruggie was tasked with proposing measures to strengthen the human rights performance of the global business sector. In this new podcast, his perspective provides a welcome source of clarification for lawyers and businesses interested in changes in this arena and gives an indication of what can be expected in the decade to come.


Notes to the Editor

  1. Click here to access the podcast.
  2. Click here to read the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
  3. The Legal Policy & Research Unit (LPRU) undertakes research and develops and implements innovative strategies and initiatives that are relevant to current contemporary global issues. Members of the team have particular areas of expertise, including legal ethics and compliance, anti-corruption, business and human rights, criminal law, cybersecurity and technological innovation, such as the use of blockchain in the legal profession. This expertise continues to be developed through project-based work, research, publications and policy development. The team engages with IBA members, legal professionals, international organisations, bar associations and governments to develop and consolidate the global network through which it can conduct its work to ensure the most efficient outcome. We utilise this network to develop an understanding of issues that are relevant to the legal profession across the globe, and this allows the LPRU to have significant impact on a range of relevant initiatives and strategies.
  4. The International Bar Association (IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice.

    The IBA acts as a connector, enabler, and influencer, for the administration of justice, fair practice, and accountability worldwide. The IBA has collaborated on a broad range of ground-breaking, international projects with the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, The Commonwealth, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, among others.

    The IBA has considerable expertise in providing assistance to the global legal community, and through its global membership, it influences the development of international law reform and helps to shape the future of the legal profession throughout the world.

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