Expert Consultation on Corporate Law and Human Rights (November 2009)

On November 5 and 6, 2009, Osgoode Hall Law School convened a major workshop, the Expert Consultation on Corporate Law and Human Rights: Opportunities and Challenges of Using Corporate Law to Encourage Corporations to Respect Human Rights.

The co-convenors of the Expert Consultation were Osgoode’s Professor Aaron Dhir and Professor Sara Seck of University of Western Ontario Faculty of Law.  The Nathanson Centre was a major sponsor along with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Export Development Canada and PricewaterhouseCoopers. York University’s Hennick Centre for Business and Law also provided assistance in the planning and implementation of the consultation.

The expert consultation, held at Osgoode Professional Development Centre, brought together corporate lawyers, civil society, academics, government regulators and industry representatives in support of the Corporate Law Tools Project of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Business and Human Rights, Professor John Ruggie.

The multi-stakeholder group of experts discussed how key corporate and securities law concepts such as incorporation and listing; directors’ duties; reporting; shareholder engagement; and other corporate governance issues as expressed in national laws and guidelines support companies to respect human rights. Professor Ruggie also participated in a lunchtime seminar with Osgoode Hall students, faculty and staff.

Summary of the Expert Consultation

Special Representative Ruggie released an advanced edited version of his 2010 report to the United Nations Human Rights Council in late April 2010 (for presentation of the report in early June 2010). Chapter III.C of the report, entitled “Fostering Rights-Respecting Corporate Cultures”, draws on the Expert Consultation.

2010 Ruggie Report

(Osgoode professors at the Expert Consultation – clockwise from upper right,: UN Special Representative John Ruggie and Professor Aaron Dhir;  Professor Peer Zumbansen; Professor Cynthia Williams; and Professor Mary Condon.)