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27 Sep 2021

Sternford Moyo, IBA

In Memory of John G. Ruggie: Tribute by Sternford Moyo on behalf of IBA

24 September 2021

The International Bar Association (IBA) joins the international community in mourning the passing of Professor John G Ruggie, the architect of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and Berthold Beitz Research Professor in Human Rights and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School.

Professor Ruggie served as the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General from 1997 to 2001 and was instrumental in establishing the UN Global Compact and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In 2005, he was appointed UN Special Representative on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. His mandate led to the unanimous endorsement by the Human Rights Council, in June 2011, of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) – a set of guidelines for States and companies to prevent, address and remedy human rights abuses committed in business operations. The UNGPs have influenced numerous other international standards, policies and regulations which have since been implemented.

The IBA has championed and contributed to the work of Professor Ruggie since the beginning of his mandate as UN Special Representative. At its Annual Conference in Vienna in October 2015, the IBA Council adopted its Business and Human Rights Guidance for Bar Associations, and with a resolution of the IBA Council in 2016, the IBA Practical Guide on Business and Human Rights for Business Lawyers was adopted. Both were strongly influenced and informed by Professor Ruggie’s work.

To mark the tenth anniversary of the UNGPs, in June this year the IBA had the honour of hosting Professor Ruggie on the first episode of its podcast series Sustainable Law in Action. During this conversation, Professor Ruggie highlighted the role of lawyers in supporting businesses to promote and protect human rights, and he referenced the key part the IBA played in disseminating the UNGPs to the broader legal community across the world.

Professor Ruggie’s legacy and his ground-breaking work will continue to inspire the international legal community in years to come.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends.