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Tuesday, November 27 • 1:30pm - 2:45pm
Connecting human rights due diligence and business lawyers: overcoming practical challenges

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Organized by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights and the International Bar Association Legal Policy and Research Unit

Short description of the session: 
This session aims to be an open and constructive round table-style discussion with attendees.  Led by business lawyers and based on the practical obstacles to implementing respect for human rights and human rights due diligence into client advisory work this session will stimulate a discussion about creative and innovative solutions to scaling up human rights due diligence in client advisory work.
This session will identify current challenges across a number of key practice areas by drawing on business lawyers’ practical experience advising business on business and human rights issues. By connecting some of the findings in the recent UN Working Group Report to the UNGA on human rights due diligence to business lawyers' practical experience, this session will seek to move the discussion from what should be done, to why it is not happening and how things might change. Speakers have been chosen to focus on issues that come up across a range of legal practice areas, including corporate M&A transactions, large-scale project based transactions, international sanctions, board-level and corporate advisory, financial crimes, international arbitration and disputes and compliance.

Session objectives:
To draw out some of the findings in the recent report of the Working Group to the UN General Assembly on human rights due diligence (A/73/163), specifically how stakeholders, can contribute to the scaling up of effective human rights risk management and due diligence by:
  • identifying why respect for human rights and HRDD is not more widely embedded into the standard business and legal practice?
  • drawing on practitioners’ experience advising businesses to understand the practice-based challenges to more widespread implementation of respect for human rights and HRDD across legal practice areas and advisory work
  • stimulating a practical discussion about how these obstacles can be overcome, if at all?

Key discussion questions:
  • What are some of the key obstacles to embedding respect for human rights and HRDD within the work of business lawyers, focusing on specific areas of practice and advisory work?
  • What needs to change? How?

Format of the session 
The session will be an interactive and conversational roundtable-style discussion. Following a brief introduction, the moderator will pose two to three questions to each speaker to elicit insight from their different perspectives. This will then transition into a broader conversation amongst the speakers and the audience, with attendees offering comments and posing questions.

Background to the discussion: 
Business lawyers are a key stakeholder group to engage if human rights due diligence is to be implemented more widely beyond a small group of early adopter. However, the recent report of the Working Group on human rights due diligence (A/73/163) highlights a number of challenges to embedding human rights due diligence into business practice related to the work of business lawyers citing a "reluctance or even pushback from traditionally oriented legal counsel, both in-house and external" and a "lack of integration of business and human rights into the core advisory services of corporate law firms".
At the same time, it identifies the great potential for business lawyers to integrate advice on human rights due diligence more widely as part of advisory services for clients and recommends that "law firms and bar associations integrate human rights risk management in line with the Guiding Principles as a core element of the role of business lawyers as "wise counselors". There is also a very strong emerging view within the legal profession that advice on human rights risk management forms a core component of providing legal and commercial advice to businesses.
Whilst a lot of positive developments have occurred within the legal profession since the adoption of the UNGP in 2011, a lot of work still needs to be done as the majority of businesses and their advisors around the world remain unaware, unable or unwilling to recognize a responsibility to respect human rights and implement human rights due diligence.
Creative and innovative solutions will only emerge if we are honest about what's not working in practice and why. This panel is made up of leading legal experts in this field who understand challenges in practice and who can provide recommendations for overcoming these obstacles.

Speakers
avatar for Maria Angelica Burgos

Maria Angelica Burgos

Partner, Zuleta Abogados Asociados
Lawyer, practising in the areas of dispute resolution (international and domestic arbitration), public international law and BHR.
avatar for Rhys Davies

Rhys Davies

Partner, DLA Piper
avatar for Rae Lindsay

Rae Lindsay

Partner, Clifford Chance LLP
avatar for Githu Muigai

Githu Muigai

Member, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights
Mr. Githu Muigai is current Associate Professor of Law, Department of Public Law, University of Nairobi; Chairman at the Council of Legal Education in Kenya; and Senior Partner, Mohammed & Muigai Advocates. He previously served as a Commissioner with the former Constitution of Kenya... Read More →
avatar for Kieran Pender

Kieran Pender

Legal Advisor, International Bar Association
Kieran Pender is a legal advisor with the Legal Policy & Research Unit of the International Bar Association (IBA) in London. Kieran is project lead on the IBA’s whistleblower protection work, including the recently-published Whistleblower Protections: A Guide (2018). He has spoken... Read More →
AS

Andrea Saldarriaga

Visiting Fellow (LSE) and Co-director IBR, London School of Economics and Political Science and the Iran Business Responsibility Project (IBR)
avatar for Hideaki Roy Umetsu

Hideaki Roy Umetsu

Partner, Mori Hamada & Matsumoto
Hideaki Roy Umetsu is a partner at Mori Hamada & Matsumoto, Japanese law firm. He focuses on international and domestic M&A transactions, compliance (including anti-corruption), and general corporate matters. He was admitted to the bars in Japan and New York. Umetsu has been actively... Read More →


Tuesday November 27, 2018 1:30pm - 2:45pm
Room XXIV