Global Law Summit 2015

The Global Law Summit was held in London from 23-25 February 2015, to mark 800 years since the Magna Carta was signed. 2000 representatives of governments, companies and law firms attended to discuss business, economic growth and the rule of law.

The programme is available here.

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24 March 2015

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights calls for firms to be responsible & held accountable for human rights abuses

Author: Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, on Law Society Gazette (UK)

"Ethical pursuit of prosperity", 23 Mar 2015

Last month’s Global Law Summit discussed the role of business in supporting the rule of law and responsible business practices…[O]ne issue…needs heightened attention – the need to hold businesses to account for their responsibility to respect human rights when things go wrong…There is a strong business case for tempering the corporate race to short-term profit with actions that look to the longer-term. The pursuit of prosperity and the promotion of human rights...complement each other. Responsible business leaders know that sustainable profits can only stem from stable societies in which people have dignity, freedom and a voice…There can be immense reputational damage to business operations that damage human rights…A good reputation can be a driving force for action. Its opposite, shame, has its own power to motivate change…When things go wrong, businesses must be held accountable, and national judicial systems must be able and willing to do so. Too often they remain inaccessible to victims, and fail to ensure effective remedy or hold companies to account…

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5 March 2015

Intl. Bar Association’s draft guidance on business & human rights lacks detail, says lawyer

Author: Jonathan Goldsmith, Council of Bars & Law Societies of Europe via Law Society Gazette (UK)

“Business, human rights – and meaning,” 3 Mar 2015

…[The International Bar Association] is holding a consultation, which is open until 15 March, on two separate draft works of IBA guidance: ‘Business and Human Rights Guidance for Bar Associations’ and ‘Guidance for Business Lawyers on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’. The IBA guidance closely follows the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The UN Principles, adopted in 2011, are high-level, and the IBA guidance does not drill down much into the important detail…[O]ne of the first doubts is whether it is useful for the IBA to publish something where so many of the difficult questions remain unresolved…It may be better to have a deeper discussion within the IBA, so that more detailed guidance can be given on these and other questions…

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25 February 2015

Embedding global markets: Lesson from business & human rights

Author: John G. Ruggie, Harvard Univ., former UN Special Representative on business & human rights

Lecture at Centre for Ethics and Law, University College London.

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25 February 2015

Summit: human rights must be in business DNA – Blair

Author: Monidipa Fouzder, Law Society Gazette (UK)

Human rights must become part of the DNA of all businesses, Cherie Blair QC told the Global Law Summit…Blair said a business’s human rights agenda was not just an ‘optional add-on’…Professor John Ruggie…said he was surprised by the involvement of corporate lawyers during his six years of research which led to the development of the UN’s Guiding Principles…[H]e said: ‘…The guiding principles have built in sensible ways to prioritise…A reporting framework launched at the summit yesterday ‘stresses the concept of salient human rights risks’…Companies, he added, did ‘lousy jobs’ at measuring value destruction. The ‘cost of getting things wrong is not measured well at all,’ he said…[G]eneral counsel…at UN Global Compact, said…interest, particularly from in-house lawyers, on business and human rights…had transitioned from being an ‘emerging topic’ 15 years ago…to now being ‘much more mainstream’. ‘So many lawyers are being engaged with what’s acceptable, not just what’s lawful.’...[Also refers to Unilever]

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23 February 2015

Mind the justice gap: The abuses British companies get away with overseas

Author: Mary Milne, Traidcraft via Fabian Society

…[V]ictims of corporate abuse in countries with weak judicial systems have not been able to get their cases heard…As Western companies have grown and internationalised over the past couple of decades, the impact they are having on people around the globe has grown too. But while profits flow, accountability does not. The gap in accountability is well known…the UK government’s own National Action Plan reiterates that the state duty to protect human rights includes ensuring access to remedy…And in the absence of serious political leadership, the buck is being passed between civil servants in the Department of Business, the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Justice…Today’s [Global Law] Summit celebrates the ‘Rule of Law as the cornerstone of a fair and just society’. We are proud of the UK’s legal tradition, but…too many overseas victims of corporate abuse by UK companies are denied a hearing in the UK…[Also refers to Acacia (formerly African Barrick Gold)]

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13 February 2015

Commentary: "How human rights can be an integral part of business success"

Author: Cherie Booth, Omnia Strategy, on Times (UK)

"How human rights can be an integral part of business success", 12 Feb 2015

The idea that human rights should form an essential platform for company strategies may seem like an unlikely concept...[but companies] that turn a blind eye to poor working conditions of their employees, low pay or worse, do so at their peril...Professor John Ruggie, who is also the former UN secretary-general's special representative for business and human rights, will join me later this month [at the Global Law Summit on 23-25 Feb] on the panel to discuss effective implementation and to initiate debate on the catalyst role that businesses can play in relation to human rights...[Subscription required for full article]

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1 February 2015

Justice campaigners propose boycott of Magna Carta anniversary summit

Author: Owen Bowcott, Guardian (UK)

A Global Law Summit…is designed to showcase British justice to an international clientele…But the constitutional festivities…come at a time when human rights organisations are complaining about restrictions on access to justice…Some lawyers are calling for a boycott, and…an alternative “Relay for Rights” will be staged…A spokesman for…shadow justice secretary, Sadiq Khan…said: “He feels a better way to celebrate Magna Carta’s birthday is defending the rule of law from a government that is seemingly intent on dismantling access to justice and watering down protection for people’s basic rights.”…[C]o-chairman of the…Global Law Summit, [said]…“It’s a lot to do with business and investment and the relationship between law and economic growth, but it’s also to do with human rights. There’s a growing recognition that the way businesses conduct themselves has an effect on their reputation…Legal aid is a legitimate issue…there are several sessions about access to justice.”...

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