Nation & World

Leadership panel to advise on business, human rights

3 min read

John Ruggie, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s special representative for business and human rights, recently announced that he is convening a leadership panel to advise him on how best to ensure that businesses worldwide respect internationally recognized human rights standards.

The panel includes Ban Ki-moon’s predecessor as secretary-general, Kofi Annan, as well as Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland who also served as U.N. high commissioner for human rights. They are joined by 13 other leaders from business, diplomacy, and civil society around the world.

Ruggie, a professor at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) who served as Annan’s strategic adviser from 1997 to 2001, has been special representative of the secretary-general (SRSG) for business and human rights since 2005.

Earlier this year, after extensive consultations with business, government, and nonprofit human rights groups on five continents, he completed the first phase of his mandate by proposing a broad policy framework for business and human rights, based on three core principles: the state’s duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business; the responsibility of corporations to respect human rights; and the need for victims of corporate-related human rights abuses to have easier access to more effective remedies.

Ruggie will continue to consult with a wide range of stakeholders, notably through meetings and workshops in different regions, ensuring that all viewpoints are heard in the further elaboration of the “protect, respect, remedy” framework. On announcing the panel’s formation, Ruggie said, “I am honored and immensely grateful to have such an esteemed, experienced, and diverse group of thought leaders engaged in this critical effort to achieve better protection of human rights with regard to business activity.”

The panelists are as follows:

Kofi Annan (Ghana), former secretary-general of the United Nations

Souhayr Belhassen (Tunisia), president, Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme

John Browne (United Kingdom), managing director of Riverstone Holdings LLC; former group chief executive of BP plc

Maria Livanos Cattaui (Switzerland), member of the board of directors, Petroplus Holdings AG; former secretary-general of the International Chamber of Commerce

Stuart Eizenstat (United States), partner, Covington & Burling LLP; former U.S. deputy secretary of the treasury, undersecretary of state, undersecretary of commerce, ambassador to the European Union

Luis Gallegos (Ecuador), ambassador of Ecuador to the United States; former vice chair, U.N. commission on human rights; member of the U.N. committee against torture

Neville Isdell (United States), chairman of the board of directors, the Coca-Cola Co. (will join the panel in April 2009)

Hina Jilani (Pakistan), member of the council, Pakistan human rights commission; former U.N. secretary-general’s special representative on human rights defenders

Kishore Mahbubani (Singapore), dean, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore; former ambassador of Singapore to the United Nations

Narayana Murthy (India), chairman, Infosys Technologies Ltd.

Sonia Picado (Costa Rica), chair, Inter-American Institute of Human Rights; former judge and vice chair of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa), executive chairman, Shanduka Group; former secretary-general of the African National Congress

Mary Robinson (Ireland), chair, Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative; former president of Ireland and United Nations high commissioner for human rights

Guy Ryder (United Kingdom), general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation

Marjorie Yang (China), chairman of Esquel Group

John Ruggie is Kirkpatrick Professor of International Affairs at HKS and affiliated professor in International Legal Studies at Harvard Law School. From 1997 to 2001 he served as United Nations assistant secretary-general for strategic planning.