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Vance Center Participates in Business and Human Rights Forum

November 2018

(United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva | Photo Credit: Sam Bookman)

The Vance Center joined over 2000 delegates from across the world at the United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights. Held every year in Geneva, the Forum brings together global leaders to discuss progress and challenges in integrating human rights in transnational business practices. The Forum is attended by businesses, academics, governments, civil society groups, and lawyers, including several Vance Center clients and partners. This year, Sam Bookman, Pro Bono Practice Fellow, represented the Vance Center.

Informed by the Vance Center’s recent work, Bookman joined in a discussion on the relevance of business and human rights principles to the practice of private-sector lawyers. The discussion reflected a growing consensus that human rights are relevant to all forms of lawyering, and that business lawyers need to understand applicable human rights obligations when advising clients on transnational due diligence and liability risk. These obligations are reflected in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the internationally-recognized legal framework on corporate responsibility to prevent and remedy human rights harms.

The Vance Center’s Human Right and Access to Justice Program has a special focus on business and human rights, working with organizations in the United States and around the world. It recently convened a panel discussion on human rights impacts of the upcoming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Earlier this year, it hosted the New York City Bar Association’s first Continuing Legal Education program on business and human rights, “Business and Human Rights – What Do They Mean for Lawyers?” and a workshop in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on “Business and Human Rights:  A Role for Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms?”.  In 2016, it co-sponsored a conference “Business and the Bar: Lawyers, Rights and Remedies” in Geneva on access to remedies, the Third Pillar of the UNGPs, addressing the role that lawyers, law firms, bar associations, and companies can play in ensuring that people harmed by business activities can seek redress. The Vance Center also participates in a working group examining how the New York City Bar Association can engage more effectively with the UN Guiding Principles.