As we mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights today, some might say that we have little to celebrate. The significant human rights gains of the early post-Cold War years appear to be coming undone as authoritarian populists take hold in countries that once seemed firmly in the democratic fold. For all of our solemn promises to “never again” permit the perpetration of genocide and crimes against humanity,… More
Category Archives: CSR Practice
New Anti-Trafficking Legislation May Spur Closer Look at Manufacturers’ Supply Chains
On September 26, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations approved the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 2200). The bill would reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. In July 2017, the House passed its version of H.R. 2200.
Of potential consequence for companies, Section 133 of H.R. 2200 would enhance the List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor that is issued and updated periodically by the Department of Labor’s International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB). … More
Five on Friday – Five Recent Developments that We’ve Been Watching Closely
It’s Friday and time for another overview of developments in the field of business and human rights that we’ve been monitoring.
This week’s post includes: a decision by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice addressing a corporation’s “duty of care” with regard to the employees of its suppliers; new IBA guidance for lawyers on integrating business and human rights considerations into their advice to clients; and a report evaluating corporate conflict minerals filings for calendar year 2016.… More
Corporate Social Responsibility and Compliance: A Functional Convergence
This is the first in a series of posts reflecting excerpts from a chapter that I authored on corporate social responsibility (“CSR”) for the Corporate Legal Compliance Handbook.
Over the last 20 years, many companies have invested considerable time and resources in developing comprehensive compliance standards and procedures. At a minimum, compliance programs are intended to prevent and detect violations of the law that may lead to civil or criminal liability.… More
Using Information on Human Rights Impacts to Drive Social Performance
New legislative requirements and stakeholder concerns have driven many companies to implement systems to identify address the potential human rights impacts of their operations. Companies increasingly realize the responsible management of human rights impacts helps mitigate legal, operational, and reputational risks.
That said, as companies begin to assess human rights impacts, they need to avoid the trap of treating these assessments as box-checking exercises. A large volume of information can be gathered through human rights due diligence,… More
Managing Risk: Integrating CSR and Compliance Functions Effectively
Corporate social responsibility (“CSR”) is an important component of overall enterprise risk management for many companies. That said, too often, corporate implementation of CSR commitments is reliant upon diverse functions and systems that may not be all that well coordinated with one another and may utilize a range of different oversight and accountability mechanisms.
Too often, assurance of corporate adherence to voluntary standards may not be well documented,… More
Human Rights Expectations for the Banking Sector: A New Report from Foley Hoag and UNEP FI
Attorneys in Foley Hoag’s Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”) practice and the U.N. Environment Programme Finance Initiative (“UNEP FI”) recently collaborated on a report analyzing the implications of the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights for the banking sector. A copy of the report is available here.
In addition to assessing the implications of the U.N. Guiding Principles, the report evaluates existing national and international human rights laws and the extent to which these existing laws may create potential liabilities for banks and/or their officers.… More
Five on Friday – Five Recent Developments that We’ve Been Watching Closely
It’s Friday and time for our latest overview of developments in the field of business and human rights that we’ve been monitoring.
This week’s post includes notice of several new lawsuits regarding human rights concerns in corporate supply chains as well as coverage of the European Court of Justice’s recent decision to strike down the 15-year old “Safe Harbor” agreement allowing companies to self-certify that their data transfers between the United States and Europe are in compliance with E.U.… More
International Bar Association Releases Guidance for Lawyers on the U.N. Guiding Principles
The Business and Human Rights Working Group of the International Bar Association (“IBA”) recently released draft guidance for bar association and business lawyers on implementation of the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (“the U.N. Guiding Principles”).
As stated in a press release by the IBA, the intent of the draft guidance for bar associations is to:
- encourage bar associations to improve understanding of the relevance and applicability of business and human rights principles;…
A Conference on Law and Corporate Social Responsibility
It used to be that the links between corporate social responsibility (“CSR”) and the law were not so clear. Practitioners in the field were few and far between and often faced considerable challenges in defining their roles and expertise to both internal and external stakeholders.
It is clear that times are changing. On September 19, many practitioners in the field of CSR and the law will gather in London for a conference hosted by the International Bar Association on “… More
Q & A on Trends in Corporate Social Responsibility
In November, Gwen Jaramillo and I published a piece in Practical Law that looked at trends relevant to CSR. The piece covered a range of topics, including new legislative and regulatory requirements, the role of the board of directors, and key concerns for corporate general counsel.
In noting the key role of the board in overseeing a company’s approach to CSR,… More
Q & A with Gare Smith, Chair of the Corporate Social Responsibility Practice
Barrick Gold Corporation (“Barrick”) recently published an interview with Gare Smith, Chair of Foley Hoag’s CSR practice and a member of Barrick’s CSR Advisory Board.
Gare founded the CSR practice in 2000 after serving as Senior Foreign Policy Advisor and Counsel to U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy,… More
Reflections on the Evolving Business and Human Rights Agenda
As mentioned in last week’s post, participants in the Voluntary Principles Initiative recently held their Annual Plenary Meeting. The discussions began with opening addresses from Professor John Ruggie, the former U.N. Special Representative on Business and Human Rights and author of the U.N. Guiding Principles, and Dr. Margaret Jungk, from the U.N.… More
Participants in the Voluntary Principles Initiative Gather for 2013 Annual Plenary Meeting
On March 13-14, participants in the Voluntary Principles Initiative gathered in The Hague for the 2013 Annual Plenary Meeting. Foley Hoag’s Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”) practice has served as the Secretariat for the Voluntary Principles Initiative since June 2010.
Established in 2000, the Voluntary Principles Initiative is a tri-partite multistakeholder initiative that provides guidance to companies in extractive industries on maintaining the safety and security of their operations within a framework that ensures respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.… More
Looking Ahead: Five Developments We’ll be Watching in 2013
As memories of New Year’s Eve fade, and another Inauguration Day winds down in Washington, D.C., it’s time to look ahead and identify key events and emerging trends that we think will help shape the business and human rights agenda in 2013.
Here are five developments that we’ll be watching closely:
Further integration of human rights considerations into business management systems. Eighteen months after the release of the U.N.… More
John Ruggie Gives Opening Address at U.N. Forum on Business and Human Rights
On December 4 and 5, more than 1,000 participants from 85 countries gathered for the first U.N. Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland. The Forum focused on “trends and challenges” in the implementation of the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the “Guiding Principles”), which were formally endorsed by the U.N. Human Rights Council in June 2011. The Forum includes discussions of a broad set of key issues in the business and human rights space,… More
Human Rights Due Diligence – An Emerging Requirement in State and Federal Legislation
Two years ago, in October 2010, I published a post, Human Rights Due Diligence and the Corporate Lawyer, that addressed the need for corporate counsel to assess stakeholder expectations that companies should be accountable for identifying, and taking action to mitigate, the adverse human rights impacts of their operations. At the time, the expectation that companies should conduct human right due diligence had been put forward as a fundamental component of the “Protect,… More
Business and Human Rights: A Convergence of Expectations
Former UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights John Ruggie, now a senior advisor to our CSR practice, recently authored an article in Corporate Secretary magazine in which he observed that there has been a "convergence of expectations" with regard to business responsibilities in the area of human rights.
These expectations are set forth in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,… More
Author of UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights Joins Foley Hoag
September 7, 2011 — John G. Ruggie, the former U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Business and Human Rights and current Harvard professor, has joined Foley Hoag LLP’s Corporate Social Responsibility Practice as a senior advisor.
Ruggie authored the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which the U.N. Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed in June after six years of development.… More
John Ruggie to Join Foley Hoag’s Corporate Social Responsibility Practice
Exciting news today!
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Author of U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to Join Foley Hoag
John G. Ruggie, U.N. Special Representative for Business and Human Rights, Will Join Corporate Social Responsibility Practice
BOSTON, July 26, 2011 – Foley Hoag LLP will expand its Corporate Social Responsibility Practice with the addition of John G.… More