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Episode description:

In this episode of Law, disrupted, John is joined by a professor of Ethics and Finance at NYU’s Stern School of Business and a director of the Center for Business and Human Rights, Michael Posner. He is also joined by Julianne Hughes-Jennett, Head of Quinn Emanuel’s ESG practice and experienced litigator of business and human rights issues. Together, they discuss what we really understand the term “human rights” to mean for business and the current challenges regarding human rights implementation across the business world.

The three begin by delving into the meaning of “human rights” and their legal ramifications for business, including whether “human rights” means different things in different jurisdictions.

Michael moves the conversation towards due diligence in relation to human rights and enforcement of human rights in connection with business, noting recent legislative examples, including the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which was created to make sure the US doesn’t support forced labor among ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region. Julianne picks up with recent EU developments, including the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive and legislation such as the Failure to Prevent Act in France. She also posits whether the UK Bribery Act’s section 7, failure to prevent offense, could be a model for a provision for a mechanism for a failure to prevent human rights impact by the business. This could bring greater legal certainty for businesses and victims, alike.

Finally, the trio mulls over the meaning of ESG and how it has evolved since its creation around 20 years ago. Michael notes that companies often heed such guidelines cynically in the name of ROI. He also emphasizes the financial implications of social issues related to labor supply chains.

Published: Aug 3 2022

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