2018 Internship Fellow Spotlight: Tahreem Ali at the BHRRC

tahreem aliMy name is Tahreem Ali and I am a rising senior at UConn. I am majoring in both Finance and Human Rights. Growing up I always had a passion for business because I took several business courses in high school to which led me to pursue a Finance major. In high school I also took a human rights class that sparked my interest. I always found the relationship between businesses and human rights fascinating and wanted to learn more about the correlation with them.

In summer 2018, I was awarded a HRI Internship Fellowship and was a Research Intern at the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre in New York..

The BusinBHRRC Logoess & Human Rights Resource Centre is an international NGO that tracks the human rights impacts that are either positive and negative of over 8000 companies in over 180 countries and making the information available on the website as well as seeking company responses regarding those human rights impacts. My responsibilities at the organization was to be a research intern where I would assist in monitoring news about companies’ impacts on social and environmental issues, update the website on a daily basis with relevant reports, and provide support to web-based projects seeking to raise awareness about business and human rights. I inputted recent components and stories onto the website and closely worked with my supervisor on articles in the artificial intelligence sector and the renewable energy sector. I also worked with a few colleagues on projects that needed additional help such as working on compiling a list of human rights abuses regarding living wages of migrant workers in the Gulf and assisting a couple colleagues in desk research in the renewable energy sector.

BHRRC LocationThis organization’s role in the larger pursuit of human rights is that they try to hold companies responsible for violations that they are causing and making it transparent to the rest of the world. Corporations have a huge impact on the environment that they are operating in whether it is in their supply chain or in the local community where they are headquartered. Since there are a lot of businesses in the private sector as well, it is hard to keep track of the work that they are doing regarding human rights violations. As you can imagine, it was very overwhelming and seemed like I had a lot to learn at this organization.

The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre is located in the Financial District in New York, New York but the main office is in London. I had an incredible view looking out to the Hudson River everyday and received plenty of sunshine that lit up the office and my experience.

The Centre’s offices are located in cities due to their involvement with the transparency and corporate accountability of companies/organizations in the private sector. It is important for the organization to be located in urban settings for a few different reasons. The first is that so they have access to communicate with all of the other regional researchers and employees around the globe. Another reason is that news travels faster in urban settings and larger organizations in the private sectors are located within cities.

While at the Centre, I was able to get plenty of advice from BHRRC Vieweveryone that worked there. One advice that really resonated with me was from the woman whom I was assisting with desk research in the renewable energy sector. She said that I should learn as much as I possibly can with as many different people as possible. This was really important to me because I am a strong believer that there is always something to learn and everyone has a different take and opinion on the topic. In human rights work I think it is important to be aware of new things that are coming out like treaties or policies and this summer I learned a great deal. The organization does a great job as serving as a global hub for human rights information in the private sector and each week they sent out a weekly update that informs the public highlights that happened that week. You can read the weekly updates at https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/weekly-updates-archive-including-company-responses and sign up to receive them in your email each week.