The Year in Review: Ten of our favorite Business & Human Rights ‘Reads’ from 2016

As 2016 comes to a close, we look back on important contributions to the field of business and human rights this year.  Our inaugural round-up of business and human rights ‘reads’ are ten articles, videos and podcasts that gave us pause, shed light on a new issue or sparked a new idea. 

1.     The Institute for Human Rights and Business’s “Top 10 Business & Human Rights Issues of 2016.” IHRB’s annual top ten list always provides a good summary of the key trends in business and human rights. Based on a survey of experts in the field, this year‘s list includes everything from Big Data to Sporting Events.

2.     The inspiring closing panel (video) at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights. In his remarks (starting at 13:15), International Corporate Accountability Roundtable’s Director, Amol Mehra called for four paradigmatic shifts for business and human rights practitioners in relation to: rights, rhetoric, rules, and rewards.

3. Big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) have emerged as a key focus area for companies in all sectors.  At Article One, we have been on the look-out for interesting content on the ethics of AI and would recommend the following two podcasts, including one with Microsoft's Managing Director of Research, Eric Horvitz.

4.     John Ruggie’s keynote at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights calling for alignment between the responsibility to respect and the Sustainability Development Goals. In his statement, Ruggie recognized that for “business to fully realize its contribution to sustainable development, it must put efforts to advance respect for human rights at the heart of the people part of sustainable development.”

5.     Microsoft’s Human Rights Website and Marks & Spencer’s Human Rights Report– two of only a handful of companies to disclose the findings of their HRIAs this year (while not from 2016, check out earlier stand-alone human rights reports from UnileverCoca ColaNestleStora EnsoArla Foods all published reports in 2015).

6.     Article One’s Principal, Chloe Poynton, led an interesting panel discussion on the need for business innovation to address humanitarian crises (video). Unfortunately, the need for innovation may be greater today than it was even a few months ago.

7.     In April 2016, the Center for Business and Human Rights at NYU Stern published the first textbook on the topic entitled Business and Human Rights: From Principles to Practice. Edited by Dorothee Baumann-Pauly and Justine Nolan, the book is a great resource for students, professors and practitioners who want to get a comprehensive overview of the field.

8.     BSR’s Aron Cramer’s call to action after the election of Donald Trump in the US.  Cramer urges business to play an influencing role in promoting inclusive growth and addressing climate change. 

9.     The Business and Human Rights Resource Center’s report, “A Wall of Silence: The Construction Sector’s Response to Migrant Rights in Qatar and the UAE.” While focused on the construction sector, the report serves as a good resource for all sectors working to address human trafficking and substandard working conditions.

10.     Finally, a contribution we have yet to read: The forthcoming US National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct, which will be at the top of our holiday reading list (to be released on December 16th).  

We hope these pieces' spark as many interesting conversations and ideas for you as they did for us. We look forward to partnering with you as we continue to address these issues in 2017.

Happy holidays!