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Monday, November 26 • 9:00am - 10:30am
Academic Networks in Conversation with Business and Human Rights Stakeholders

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Organized by Academic Friends of the OECD Guidelines, BHRights Initiative for Interdisciplinary Research and Teaching on Business and Human Rights, Business and Human Rights Young Researchers, Business Schools Promoting Business and Human Rights, European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratization, International Law Association Reading Group on Business and Human Rights, Oxford Business and Human Rights Network.

Brief description of the session:
This session will explore the complex role of business & human rights academic networks of research and teaching in the business and human rights field. Building on the diverse roles that academic networks (understood in a broad sense) can fulfil - such as interpreting, training, facilitating, validating, expert cooperation and consulting - the roundtable aims to open the floor for a wide critical engagement with stakeholders in order to unpack the contribution that academic activities bring to various business and human rights stakeholders and in order to explore new ways of enhancing stakeholder engagement as well as impact.

Session objectives: 
This session aims to:
  • Stimulate an interactive discussion with all BHR stakeholders on the role of BHR academic, research and teaching networks and of the multiple perspectives they bring to BHR.
  • Provide a platform for multi-stakeholder discussion about whether and how the academics and BHR research and teaching networks, themselves as stakeholders, contribute to shaping the BHR discourse, policy and practice.
  • Explore how the BHR networks shape and advance our understanding of how to effectively address corporate human rights challenges
  • Reflect on how to preserve critical engagement and independence of thinking in a highly polarised and politicised environment.

Key discussion questions:
  • How do research and teaching in these networks help advance the BHR thinking and practice? Which audiences and stakeholders do they reach or should aim to reach?
  • How do they contribute to identifying and building on what works in BHR?
  • What is the role of ‘action research’ within the BHR scholarly networks? To what extent do the BHR networks engage directly yet critically within the field?
  • What is the ‘sphere of influence’ of such BHR networks? How could researchers and BHR networks contribute to enhancing the impact of research results and insights within universities and business schools, as well as externally, among other stakeholders such as businesses, NGOs, government, the media?
  • Where do research and teaching on BHR happen and to what extent do other stakeholders have access to those knowledge platforms? Are there regional distinctions? Where are the gaps?
  • Should interdisciplinarity be put more firmly on the agenda, promoting systematic collaborations in research and through co-teaching modules? Would (global interdisciplinary) teaching programs (whether in academic or professional settings) be of more use?
  • What is the social responsibility that is at stake here? To what extent are these networks developing a ‘scholarly due diligence’, that embeds meaningful engagement with stakeholders?
  • Do BHR networks contribute to creating synergies between research and teaching in the field?
  • Should research or teaching within these networks be aligned or would this hamper innovative thinking? What is the scope of stakeholder engagement in these activities?
  • To what extent are BHR research and scholarship being shaped by funding opportunities or the lack thereof? How can the networks engage with stakeholders – government, businesses, funding bodies – in order to secure both sustainability and impact in research?

Tentative agenda:
Part I - Introduction by the represented networks
Representatives from the different BHR networks organizing the session will commence with short introductory remarks, presenting briefly selected issues for reflection and debate.

Part II -  Multi-stakeholder dialogue 
The questions set out for discussion will be used to stimulate debate and stakeholder engagement, inviting the audience to reflect on those issues and to identify additional ideas for advancing BHR research and teaching within a multi-stakeholder perspective.

Stakeholders that wish to engage with the proposed issues and share their experience and perspective on being part of a BHR network or on engaging as stakeholders with BHR scholarly platforms will be invited to share their perspective during short interventions of 2-3 minutes or by raising questions and taking part in the debate. The BHR stakeholders and networks that are considering participating in the session with a tabled intervention are encouraged to pre-register, by emailing the organisers at a.voiculescu@westminster.ac.uk. Participants may also submit written statements, before or soon after the session. In the hope of continuing the dialogue, following the debate, the roundtable organisers will aim to disseminate a brief report, summarising the session’s key points. This will be based on the discussion, tabled interventions and submitted written contributions.

Background to the discussion: 
In the past years, a number of academic, research and teaching networks have emerged in the business and human rights (BHR) arena, becoming both creations and co-creators of the BHR field. Reflecting the complex make-up of the field itself, the focus of these networks varies greatly, yet they all aspire to address the points of tension between business activities and human rights, as well as the global challenges that stem from these points of tension. Some of these networks take a broad approach, engaging actively - through research and teaching - with all fields of BHR reflection, policy and practice, while others support specific instruments, such as the UNGPs, the OECD Guidelines or the Global Compact; some engage specific stakeholders - immigrant workers, indigenous populations, refugees - while yet others focus on growing - in classrooms and amphitheatres - generations of BHR-minded lawyers, business managers, financial advisers or, indeed, researchers; some aim for a global reach, while others have a regional or local focus; some are discipline-anchored (management, organization studies, business ethics or law), while others put forth interdisciplinary approaches. In this context, BHR networks develop – and depend – on complex interactions with multiple stakeholders.

Moderator/ Introductory Remark...
avatar for Aurora Voiculesu

Aurora Voiculesu

Associate Professor in Socio-Legal Studies and Human Rights, University of Westminster

avatar for Michael Addo

Michael Addo

Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame Law School
avatar for Dorothée Baumann-Pauly

Dorothée Baumann-Pauly

Research Director, NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights
Dorothée Baumann-Pauly is a business ethics scholar with extensive practical experience working on the implementation of human rights in multi-stakeholder settings. Since 2013, she is the Director of Research at the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, managing its strategic... Read More →
avatar for Björn Fasterling

Björn Fasterling

Professor of Law, Head of Faculty Accounting, Control and Legal Affairs, EDHEC Business School
avatar for Raymond Saner

Raymond Saner

Director CSEND in Geneva and Co-chair of the academic network of the OECD RBC Guidelines, Professor, Basel University and Science Po in Paris
I'm a student of the LLM Program Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. I'm looking for the internship or entry-level position.
avatar for Florian Wettstein

Florian Wettstein

Director, Institute for Business Ethics, University of St. Gallen
CRAAD-OI is a Panafrican Organization based in Madagascar which  promotes sustainable development alternatives that are centered on the realization of human rights and based on the principles of gender equality, social, economic and ecological justice.

Monday November 26, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am CET