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• In this series, activists, business executives, government officials, lawyers, and academics from around the world share topical and current stories of businesses impacting people in their everyday lives. Developed by the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB), this series elevates the range of voices – governments, businesses, and civil society – in the discussion on how to make human rights part of everyday business.

Voices - Conversations on Business and Human Rights from Around the World Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB)

    • Gemeinnützig

• In this series, activists, business executives, government officials, lawyers, and academics from around the world share topical and current stories of businesses impacting people in their everyday lives. Developed by the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB), this series elevates the range of voices – governments, businesses, and civil society – in the discussion on how to make human rights part of everyday business.

    Morten Kjaerum on Human Rights Cities

    Morten Kjaerum on Human Rights Cities

    A Human Rights City is a place where local government, civil society, private sector, and other stakeholders ensure the application of international human rights standards. As Morten Kjaerum of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute says, it is in the cities and local communities that life happens - whether urban or rural area, it is at the local level where social, political, and economic issues come into being, where policies are translated into concrete actions, and where rights are vindicated. Here, Raoul Wallenberg's Morten Kjaerum speaks with IHRB's Haley St. Dennis about the opportunity the rights-based approach offers to the full range of actors involved throughout the lifecycle of the built environment - from planning and finance through to management and re-use.
    Morten Kjaerum has been Director of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in Sweden since 2015. Prior to that, he was the first Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) in Vienna from 2008 to 2015. He is currently also Chair of The Board of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE).

    • 18 Min.
    Susan Kaplan on Social Equity as Buildings "Go Green"

    Susan Kaplan on Social Equity as Buildings "Go Green"

    Almost 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, both from the construction process and when they are in use. This has led to a rapid rise in “green building” initiatives and certification schemes. The World Green Building Council has called for “radical cross-sector coordination to revolutionize the buildings and construction sector towards a net zero future.” However, action to reduce the environmental impacts of a project can often overlook its social impacts: whether this involves displacing local communities, overlooking accessibility for disabled users, or the exploitation of workers on the construction site and throughout the materials supply chain.
    Annabel Short spoke with Susan Kaplan of BuildingWrx and the US Green Building Council’s Social Equity Working Group, about the ways that built environment professionals – from planners, to developers, to architects – can, and must, prioritize the needs and aspirations of local communities. The US Green Building Council has developed social equity pilot credits and a checklist to help make this happen.

    • 19 Min.
    Debbie Fordyce on Migrant Workers in Singapore

    Debbie Fordyce on Migrant Workers in Singapore

    There are just under a million 'work permit' migrant workers in Singapore.  This is the lowest category of visa entry, and places many restrictions on the workers (although there is no minimum wage restriction).  Many of these workers pay large recruitment fees in their country of origin for such low wage jobs, and arrive in Singapore to work in the domestic, construction or shipyard industries already in considerable debt.  These debts, together with heavy government levies on the employers, often lead to excessive overtime (sometimes up to 15 hours a day, seven days a week), with the concomitant health and safety risks associated with working long hours. When workers are injured, they often struggle to get treatment, help or compensation from their employers. 
    Debbie Fordyce is president of Transient Workers Count Too, a local NGO committed to assisting migrant workers in the shipyard industry who are unable to work yet unable to leave Singapore, providing hot food and sometimes advice to over 2,000 a year mainly Bangladeshi and Indian shpyard workers. Debbie began working with resettlement of Indochinese refugees in the USA in 1979, before coming to work with the Indochina refugee resettlement program in Singapore and Indonesia in 1980. She began volunteering with TWC2 in 2005, and now coordinates its Cuff Road project She also heads the subcommittee that oversees medical assistance for injured and ill clients.

    • 14 Min.
    Rohini Lakshané on Internet Shutdowns in India

    Rohini Lakshané on Internet Shutdowns in India

    Internet shutdowns have increased in their frequency around the world. Many countries routinely deny access to vast parts of the population, by requiring internet service providers to shut down services for extensive periods. This has significant impacts on human rights - to freedom of expression and assembly, but also to seek receive and impart information, as well as to trade and to education and health. What was once seen as an aberration is becoming a norm. Countries including Pakistan, Myanmar, parts of China, and India have shut down the Internet (in some cases slowing down access) with severe consequences for people. In India it used to be sporadic, such as in states in the north-east, but since August, the former state of Jammu and Kashmir (since bifurcated into two federally-administered areas) has had limited access to the outside world. India has a long history of internet shutdowns.
     
    Rohini Lakshané is a technologist by training, public policy researcher, Wikimedian and digital security trainer. She has worked on several research and advocacy projects on the intersection of technology, policy, and civil liberties. Her body of work encompasses diverse territories such as the application of technology and policy to solve issues of gender inequity and violence; access to knowledge; openness; patent reform; making tech spaces diverse and inclusive; and the cross-hairs of gender, sexuality and the Internet. She also conducts digital security trainings for journalists, activists, and at-risk civil society groups. She has served on interational juries honouring excellence in online activism. For her research, she was profiled in the 2019 book “31 Fantastic Adventures in Science: Women Scientists in India”. She cowrote a report on Internet shutdowns in the Indian state of Manipur, which has witnessed insurgency. Her report focuses on the gendered impact of such shutdowns. While Indian law is firm in requiring companies to comply with government instructions, Lakshané argues that companies should explore collective responses to the problem.

    • 16 Min.
    Panel Discussion on the State of Business and Human Rights in 2019

    Panel Discussion on the State of Business and Human Rights in 2019

    In the past quarter century, global civil society organisations and policy-makers have increasingly focused on corporate conduct and examined impacts on human rights. Following the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights adopted in 2011, governments have introduced some regulations, NGOs have run campaigns, some CSOs and governments are seeking to draft a new treaty to address business and human rights issues, companies have proactively developed policies, and multistakeholder initiatives have explored new ways of working to address common challenges. There are of course new challenges, including those posed by companies from the parts of the world which have not been part of the global human rights and business discourse, the use of technology and its wider prevalence, and the climate crisis.
     
    In November, IHRB's Salil Tripathi held a discussion with Froydis Cameron-Johansson, group head of international and government relations at Anglo American, Marcela Manubens, global vice president at Unilever for integrated social sustainability, Mark Taylor, post doctoral fellow at the faculty of law at the University of Oslo, and Pia Rudolfsson Goyer, an independent expert on business and human rights in Norway, at the University of Bergen in Norway, where IHRB ran a course with Rafto Foundation on business and human rights. In the discussion, the experts discussed the progress thus far, the challenges ahead, and the need for a consensus-driven approach.

    • 31 Min.
    Erik Hagen and Asria Mohamed on Lack of Corporate Consent in Western Sahara

    Erik Hagen and Asria Mohamed on Lack of Corporate Consent in Western Sahara

    Morocco's occupation of Western Sahara is illegal under international law. Businesses have continued to operate in Western Sahara despite international opinion, including from the United Nations, posing profound questions about business activity in Western Sahara. International law does not prohibit business activity in occupied territories, but there are strict rules to be followed, including ensuring that the operations are with the consent of the local people and 'plunder', 'pillage' and other forms of profiteering are violation of international laws. Human rights groups, such as the Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW), have been monitoring business conduct in Western Sahara and investigated corporate conduct, including naming companies that act in ways that undermine international standards.
     
    Salil Tripathi of IHRB spoke to Erik Hagen and Asria Mohamed of WSRW recently, where they spoke about the conditions in which refugees live, the manner in which business takes place, the conditions under which trade and investment can take place, and the roles and responsibilities of companies that operate in occupied territories. Operating in such territories raises significant challenges for companies which must undertake enhanced due diligence. Asria is a journalist who grew up in a refugee camp and now lives in Norway. Erik chairs WSRW and has undertaken investigations and edited a book, Profit over Peace in Western Sahara.

    • 13 Min.

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