Welcome to our blog
Only slightly behind the times we have now fully embraced digital technology and set up our very own blog.
Despite not being the first, we do hope you will think we are (one of) the best.
The time seemed right for us not only to be telling you about what we do, but also highlighting the issues we are passionate about.
Through our Knowledge Groups, our resource centre and our training we are delving deeper into the strategic role that the law can play in international development. And we want to get as many people as possible involved in these debates.
The type of issue we are looking to engage more fully with was highlighted at a recent talk given by Vanessa Zimmerman, the Legal Adviser to Professor John Ruggie, on the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the impact of this new piece of soft legislation on international development.
The private sector is currently being lauded as a key player in ensuring the success of the Millennium Development Goals. But this will only be realised if businesses ‘do no harm’ through human rights abuses or environmental degradation.
This isn’t just about having separate CSR programmes – as beneficial as they are. But ensuring that core business is also ‘Ruggie proof.’
To many it may seem that there is a gulf between business and development. Surely the latter is the preserve of governments, the UN or NGOs?
Unfortunately this does not hold true when a business’ use and control of land in developing countries affects the rights and access of local communities to food, clean water and livelihoods.
But what of lawyers, what is their role?
Well lawyers who are committed to meeting the MDGs should be taking a proactive role in advising businesses on what they should be doing to ensure they are not a barrier to development, and that they are adhering to environmental and sustainability standards.
Moreover, business and human rights will be particularly important for lawyers specialising for example in corporate and securities law, corporate governance, M&A and investment, as they will need to advise clients on how to forgo risk in these areas.
Of course not being a ‘barrier’ is different from actually driving development forward and encouraging businesses to proactively fulfil the rights of the communities they engage with.
This clearly wasn’t the remit of the Guiding Principles, but do you think it should have been?
Yasmin Batliwala is the Chief Executive of A4ID.
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