On this page Organising Committee Colloquium Description Registration information Public Lecture About Cumberland Colloquia Further information
Damiano de Felice, PhD student in International Relations, LSE; Research Assistant, LSE Sustainable Finance Project; Global Shaper, World Economic Forum
Ann Sofie Cloots, Doctoral Research Fellow, Research Foundation - Flanders, KULeuven; PhD Candidate, Law Faculty, Cambridge University
Charline Daelman, PhD Researcher & Teaching Assistant, Leuven Institute for Human Rights and Critical Studies (LIHRiCS)
Irene Pietropaoli, PhD candidate, Law Faculty, Middlesex University; Lecturer in Human Rights & Business, Regent's University; Researcher, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
Objective and comparable indicators of corporate respect for human rights are fundamental to advance the business and human rights agenda. Robust indicators allow States and businesses to check their progress and identify loopholes as well as best practices; they allow NGOs to track corporate performance, thus encouraging virtuous competition; and they allow socially responsible investors to avoid human rights risks and employ their investment funds towards sustainable businesses.
The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights state that:
"[i]n order to verify whether adverse human rights impacts are being addressed, business enterprises should track the effectiveness of their response" and that "[t]racking should ... [b]e based on appropriate qualitative and quantitative indicators".
In its 2012 Annual Report to the General Assembly, the UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises confirmed the relevance of the issue by stating that:
"States and business enterprises should scale up and sustain efforts to implement the Guiding Principles, including ... by establishing measurable and transparent indicators to assess their effective implementation".
Notwithstanding general agreement on the importance of the topic, measuring respect for human rights is not an easy task, and results are still meagre. A pilot business survey conducted by the UN Working Group in December 2012 highlights that "82% of respondents agreed that 'when an actual or potential human rights impact is identified, we allocate responsibility to the relevant business unit and/or department to resolve the issue and report on progress when necessary'. But when then asked if their company tracks progress through developing 'qualitative and quantitative indicators, informed by experts and relevant stakeholders', 53% agreed, 47% disagreed or were unsure".
The Colloquium aims to address:
(i) fundamental normative questions (such as, what are the risks of quantifying human rights? Would quantification entail losing human rights' emancipatory potential?) and
(ii) more practical challenges (such as, which indicators can best measure a specific human rights norm? Should indicators concentrate on policy, procedure and/or performance? What is desirable and what is achievable at present?). Insights will be tested and applied to two case-studies, each presenting challenges and opportunities for one specific business sector and one specific human rights issue.
The Colloquium is structured as an expert meeting. The Organising Committee will lead a research team in charge of drafting a report on business and human indicators. The draft report will be presented at the Colloquium, where established experts will give targeted feedback and offer practical suggestions for potential modifications. The report will then be refined by the Organising Committee. The aim is to present the final version of the report at the 2013 UN Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights, to be held in Geneva on 2-4 December.
The Cumberland Colloquium on business and human rights indicators is made possible thanks to generous donations from:
Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development
The British Academy
Regent’s University London
LSE Centre for the Study of Human Rights
The purpose of the Colloquium is to take the best from the enthusiasm of creative researchers (who will draft the report to be discussed during the Colloquium) and the experience of established experts (who will discuss its findings and provide targeted feedback and suggestions to refine it at a later stage).
The list of experts (which will be regularly updated during the coming months) currently include: Dr. Michael Addo, University of Exeter, UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises Yousuf Aftab, Enodo Rights Nelleke van Amstel, DCAF Joanna Bauer, Columbia University Gauthier de Beco, KULeuven Dr Nadia Bernaz, Middlesex University Farnam Bidgoli, Sustainalytics Maria Elvira Calero, Alta Consejería para la Convivencia y Seguridad Ciudadana, Colombia Carlos Cordero, Sustentia Dr. Shane Darcy, Irish Centre for Human Rights Kathryn Dovey, Global Business Initiative Nicolas Fasel, OHCHR John Ferguson, University of Strathclyde Peter Frankental, Amnesty International UK Kevin Franklin, Maplecroft Elisa Giuliani, University of Pisa Louise Haigh, Aviva Thomas Haueter, GRI Eija Hietavuo, UNICEF Dwight Justice, ITUC Richard Karmel, Mazars Prof. Todd Landman, University of Essex Prof. Sheldon Leader, University of Essex Amol Mehra, International Corporate Accountability Roundtable Audrey Olivier-Muralt, DCAF Cathrine Poulsen-Hansen, Danish Institute for Human Rights Dr Maria Prandi, Escuela Superior de Administración y Dirección de Empresas Caroline Rees, Shift Project Andrea Shemberg, Investment and Human Rights Project, LSE Anna Triponel, Shift Project Elizabeth Umlas, Independent researcher and consultant Liesbeth Unger, Human Rights@Work Margaret Wachenfeld, Institute for Human Rights and Business Mark Wielga, NomoGaia Stephanie Bijlmakers, KULeuven Anna Bulzomi, IPIS Chiara Macchi, Sant' Anna School of Advanced Studies Luke Smitham, Business and Human Rights Resource Centre Tara Van Ho, University of Essex Jordi Vives, University of St. Gallan
This event is now full.
Enquiries should be directed to email@example.com
Coming to this event? Join in on Facebook
The Colloquium will culminate in a public lecture at 6pm, by Richard Howitt MEP. All are welcome - tickets are £5 for non-day delegates. Registration for the lecture option alone will be via this online registration form.
Cumberland Lodge offers its expertise and beautiful venue to facilitate interdisciplinary and inter-institutional conferences, run by and for postgraduates and early career researchers. Find out more here.