The Business and Human Rights Initiative at UConn seeks to develop and support multidisciplinary and engaged research, education, and public outreach at the intersection of business and human rights through:
- Support of scholarly research and related public engagement by UConn faculty
- Convening of conferences, roundtables, workshops, and other events
- Engagement with policymakers, companies, advocates, and other stakeholders to advance respect for human rights
- Support of student learning and professional opportunities in business and human rights
A partnership founded by Dodd Human Rights Impact, the UConn School of Business, and the Human Rights Institute, our initiative collaborates with programs and units throughout UConn.
Business and human rights education equips students with the knowledge and skills to create value for business and society. The Initiative supports and promotes business and human rights learning both in and outside of the classroom by:
- Assisting in the development and delivery of courses and the incorporation of business and human rights topics through the UConn curriculum. Current course offerings include:
- Supporting and promoting student engagement through on-campus organizations and workshops.
- Facilitating student internship and practicum course opportunities with corporations, civil society organizations, international organizations, and government agencies.
- Advancing business and human rights education through national and international organizations. For example, faculty member Rachel Chambers serves as co-director of the Teaching Business and Human Rights Forum, an international organization dedicated to promoting and strengthening business and human rights education by fostering collaboration among teachers.
To advance respect for human rights, UConn faculty engage with policymakers, businesses, advocates and other stakeholders to support student learning and professional opportunities in business and human rights. Examples of our engagement includes:
United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR)
Participation in stakeholder consultations on the day of general discussion regarding State Obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the Context of Business Activities.
Global Network Initiative (GNI)
GNI is a multi-stakeholder group of companies, civil society organizations, investors, and academics dedicated to protecting and advancing freedom of expression and privacy in the information and communications technology sector. Molly Land, professor of law and human rights and a member of our steering committee, is an alternate member of GNI's Board of Directors.
A Comparative Analysis of Stakeholder Dialogue Regimes
Principal Investigator: Shereen Hertel
Stakeholder dialogues are integral to conflict negotiation in business settings worldwide. They are a central tool in the business and human rights field, legitimated and professionalized in the early 2000s during the mandate of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Business & Human Rights, John G. Ruggie. This project analyzes the scope of stakeholder dialogues taking place globally (drawing on the 6,000 company dataset of the New York and London-based Business & HR Resource Centre); explores the historical evolution of varying forms of public dialogue around business harm and benefits from the 1970s to present; develops a two-company in-depth case study of successful and failed stakeholder dialogues in a single industry and geographic region; and explores concrete mechanisms for enhancing the practice and content of stakeholder consultation with a view toward empowering the most vulnerable among workers and community members.
Tethered Fates: Companies, Communities, and Rights at Stake
by Shereen Hertel
Oxford University Press, 2019
Finance & Human Rights
Assessing the Human Rights Impact of Sustainable Finance Instruments
Principal Investigator: Stephen Park
The global capital markets—and, by extension, private issuers, investors, and other financial market participants—are expected to play a growing role in supporting the fulfillment of economic and social rights. A key challenge for the incorporation of human rights is determining how to measure, assess, and report on the human rights performance of a given financial instrument by a given issuer. This project addresses this challenge in the context of green bonds, social bonds, sustainability bonds, and similar fixed-income debt instruments that are used to finance projects with a specific social benefit (such as education, employment, housing, or healthcare). The use of proceeds of these financial products, as well as the process by which they are created, sold, traded, marketed, and applied, can be defined by reference to specific human rights. This project examines the use of metrics and indicators, reporting standards, due diligence, and third-party assessment for the purpose of evaluating regulatory approaches to innovation in finance and human rights.
Social Bonds for Sustainable Development: A Human Rights Perspective on Impact Investing
by Stephen Park
Business and Human Rights Journal, 2018
Digital Human Rights
Speech Remedies: Toward State and Corporate Accountability for the Harms of Online Speech
Principal Investigator: Molly Land
This project develops an interdisciplinary framework based on human rights law for responding to harmful speech online in ways that balance protection from the harms of speech with safeguards for freedom of expression. Current approaches to harmful online speech ignore important lessons from the history of media regulation while also failing to recognize the ways in which the internet ecosystem presents unique challenges. Lack of deep engagement with theories of speech harms and remedies also results in a misalignment of policy that elides critical distinctions between types of harms.
This project seeks to connect online speech regulation to both history and theory to understand what, if anything, is new about these problems and how law can and should respond. It draws on international human rights law to develop recommendations for both state and corporate actors in responding to harmful speech online. Its goal is to use human rights law as the basis for a global law of the internet that can be applied by companies and states alike to address the very real harms of speech while also protecting free expression.
Corporate Accountability Mechanisms
Corporate Accountability Mechanisms
Principal Investigator: Rachel Chambers
The key accountability mechanisms in the business and human rights field may be summarized as judicial and non-judicial processes, and domestic laws requiring non-financial disclosure and, increasingly, human rights due diligence. Tort litigation is one of the primary mechanisms of judicial accountability. The project explores the legal trends in tort liability for human rights violations by corporate actors in the U.S. and other home states, both as a matter of substantive and procedural law, and the role of human rights due diligence in the development of this law. Statutes mandating modern slavery disclosure continue to be enacted, despite widely expressed concern about their fitness for purpose as an accountability mechanism. The project focuses on regulatory and litigation approaches that enable human rights disclosure to be used as an accountability mechanism. A common theme that links the threads of research is the challenge of employing extraterritorial accountability mechanisms to address corporate misconduct, in particular from the perspective of the victim.
As part of its mission of engaged research, the Initiative facilitates related public engagement by UConn faculty in order to bridge the gaps between academia, business, civil society, and government. In addition, we host the Business and Human Rights Workshop Series, which is dedicated to the development and discussion of works-in-progress and other non-published academic research.
February 18, 2021
Business and Human Rights Workshop: Black Star Line, Inc.: Race in the Historical Life of the Corporation
Aaron Dhir, Osgoode Hall Law School and Yale Law School
Discussant: Larry Catá Backer, Penn State Law
Co-sponsored by: Eversource Energy Chair in Business Ethics
March 4, 2021
Human Rights, Social Justice, and Investment: Opportunities and Challenges
A panel discussion on advocacy, activism, and engagement at the intersection of finance and human rights with:
Sara Blackwell, Business and human rights consultant
Ryan Bowers, Activest
Jillianne Lyon ('18), Investor Advocates for Social Justice
Bart Robertson, Global Fund to End Modern Slavery
March 12, 2021
Our First Decade: From the UNGPs to mHRDD
The Teaching BHR Forum celebrates its tenth anniversary by bringing together newer voices and the wisdom of experience to discuss mandatory human rights due diligence. The speakers will contextualize today's developments in the EU and discuss the key areas of progress and promise, the "no go" areas, and corporate board liability and governance.
Claire Bright, NOVA Knowledge Center for Business, Human Rights and the Environment
John Morrison, Institute for Human Rights and Business
Chris Patz, European Coalition for Corporate Justice
John Ruggie, Harvard Kennedy School
March 18, 2021
Business and Human Rights Workshop: A Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for Human Rights
Rachel Chambers, University of Connecticut Human Rights Institute & Jena Martin, West Virginia University College of Law
Discussant: John Anderson, Mississippi College School of Law
June 21, 2021
Second Roundtable for University-Based Business and Human Rights Programs
In collaboration with the Sié Center for International Security and Diplomacy at the University of Denver, the Initiative co-hosted a virtual roundtable with the dual objectives of exploring the ethical and practical challenges of supporting business and human rights research and engaging with companies and identifying and articulating best practices for university-based BHR programs.
August 26, 2021
Reviving the Great Debate
Business and human rights teachers often pride themselves of the relevance of their field to practice. But are we preparing our students adequately so that there is no disconnect between theory and practice? Join us to debate this question with provocative speakers who will endeavor to convince us whether ‘The current mode of teaching business and human rights is disconnected to the reality of business and human rights in practice.’
Arguing in favor of this proposition will be:
Justine Nolan, Australian Human Rights Institute, UNSW
Amol Mehra, Laudes Foundation
Mike Posner, NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights
Arguing against the proposition will be:
Jena Martin, West Virginia University
Debbie Stothard, Altsean-Burma
Tara van Ho, University of Essex
Moderated by Robert McCorquodale, Inclusive Law
September 23, 2021
Financial Services Human Rights Benchmark
A presentation and discussion on the Financial Services Human Rights Benchmark by David Kinley, University of Sydney Law School and Kym Sheehan
Commentator: Ariel Meyerstein
Hosted by: Project on Public Finance and Human Rights
October 21, 2021
Task Force on Inequality-related Financial Disclosures (TIFD)
A presentation and discussion on the Task Force on Inequality-related Financial Disclosures (TIFD) by Joanne Bauer, Rights CoLab
Commentator: Todd Cort, Yale School of Management
October 22, 2021
What Role Should Central Banks Play in Dealing with Environmental and Social Challenges like Climate Change and Inequality?
Hosted by: Project on Public Finance and Human Rights
November 11, 2021
Business and Human Rights Workshop: Is Human Rights Due Diligence the Next Form of Greenwashing?
Co-Presenters: Justine Nolan, UNSW Law and Robert McCorquodale, University of Nottingham School of Law
Discussant: David Hess, University of Michigan Ross School of Business
November 30, 2021
Business and Human Rights Workshop: Contractual Deterrence and the Ethical Supply Chain
Presenter: Robert Bird, University of Connecticut School of Business
Discussant: Gastón de los Reyes, Glasgow Caledonian New York College
2020 & Before
April 8, 2014
Implementing Dodd-Frank 1502/1504: Advancing Human Rights through Financial Reporting
Hosted and sponsored by: Dodd Human Rights Impact
April 23-24, 2015
Social Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Conference: Creating Value for Business and Society
Co-hosted and co-sponsored by: Dodd Human Rights Impact | Eversource Energy Chair in Business Ethics | Connecticut Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
March 23, 2016
Divestment, Engagement, and How to Change the World A Perspective on South Africa, Darfur, and Fossil Fuels
Lecture by Bennett Freeman, former Senior Vice President for Social Research and Policy at the Calvert Group
Hosted by and sponsored by: Dodd Human Rights Impact as part of the RBS Greenwich Capital Economic Seminar Series
March 30, 2017
Roundtable on Business and Human Rights in an Era of Anti-Globalization
October 5-6, 2017
Protecting Rights at the End of the Line: Stakeholder Engagement in Light Manufacturing
Co-sponsored by: Research Program on Economic & Social Rights (ESRG), Human Rights Institute | UConn Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) | Eversource Energy Chair in Business Ethics
September 20-21, 2018
Symposium on Finding the Human Face of Finance
Keynote address by Amy Domini, Founder and Chair of Domini Impact Investments
Co-sponsored by: RBS Greenwich Capital Economic Seminar Series | UConn School of Business – Finance Department | Eversource Energy Chair in Business Ethics
October 4, 2019
Lunchtime Seminar, Sheila Hayre, Visiting Associate Professor of Law, Quinnipiac University, "Lessons from the T Visa on Protecting Victims of Trafficking: What States Can Learn"
October 10, 2019
Book launch for "Tethered Fates Companies, Communities, and Rights at Stake" by Shareen Hertel, Associate Professor of Political Science and Human Rights
Book (Oxford University Press, 2019)
November 22, 2019
Corporate Social Responsibility and Human Rights Summit
Hosted by: President’s Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility at UConn
November 8, 2019
Business & Human Rights University Network Roundtable
The Initiative hosted a roundtable of North American university-based human rights programs to discuss their multifaceted roles in the study and practice of business and human rights.
March 5, 2020
We Are Not Pricing Climate Risk: A Wall Street Perspective
Robert Litterman, Chairman of Risk Committee, Kepos Capital
Hosted by: Edwin Way Teale Lecture Series
October 22, 2020
Unavoidable Power and Unaccountable Impacts? The Roles and Responsibilities of Central Banks in Global Economic Governance
Hosted by: Project on Public Finance and Human Rights
November 12, 2020
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Four Thought Leaders, Four Sectors, One Dialogue
November 20, 2020
Business & Human Rights Roundtable on Collegiate Sourcing
December 11, 2020
Transnational Corporations and Human Rights: Overcoming Barriers to Judicial Remedy
A conversation to mark the publication of Transnational Corporations and Human Rights: Overcoming Barriers to Judicial Remedy and to celebrate the scholarship of Gwynne Skinner (1964 - 2017) with a panel of her co-authors and co-contributors.
Rachel Chambers, Co-Director, Teaching BHR Forum; Postdoctoral Research Associate, Human Rights Institute, University of Connecticut
Jennie Green, Clinical Professor of Law, University of Minnesota
James Yap, Lawyer, Toronto, President, Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights
Moderated by Sarah McGrath, Director of International Engagement, Business and Human Rights, Australian Human Rights Commission