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23 Sep 2021

Heidi Hautala

In Memory of John G. Ruggie: Tribute by Heidi Hautala

23 September 2021

I am deeply saddened to hear that Professor John G. Ruggie passed away on 16 September 2021.

His individual strength and vision was central in the birth of the global movement to make real the rights of the people who have paid the highest price for globalisation, the people held in slavery and forced to work in inhumane conditions, the indigenous peoples who lost their lands to agribusiness or mining corporations.  His efforts creating the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and later implementing them into practice will live long after him. I am relieved to know that John Ruggie experienced the enthusiasm around the tenth anniversary of the Guiding Principles this year, ready to go to the next decade,  with so many different allies and stakeholders networking closely with one another. And above all, he was there to see the beginning of the real implementation of the Guiding Principles, notably by the EU. He became a permanent companion and guide to the core group of MEPs committed to this work. 

Yet, our work to enshrine these principles into legally binding frameworks, in all four corners of the world, will sorely miss his voice and his leadership. Many will no doubt share my feelings today, that our work will be much, much harder without him. But I pledge, in honor of his memory, that together we will keep going until laws protect the rights of every single person from corporate misbehaviour in our global village.

Not more than five months ago I had the honour to discuss the EU’s due diligence efforts from a global perspective with professor Ruggie. The interview is part of an interview series I am conducting in my role as the European Parliament’s vice-president for the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). I believe that his insights in the discussion are highly relevant and inspirational even today...