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Corporate accountability explored at Cardiff human rights conference

23 June 2022

Aerial shot of a copper mine in Mongolia
Aerial shot of a copper mine in Mongolia

This May, the Centre for Human Rights and Public Law hosted a two day virtual conference entitled Corporate Accountability for Human Rights Abuses and Natural Resources Governance: A Study in Global Law, Development and Justice.

The international conference, which took place on 12-13 May, was held in partnership with the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (Berlin) and was funded partly by the Learned Society of Wales and the School of Law & Politics Research Support Scheme (RSS). It was convened and organised by Reader in law, Dr Ricardo Pereira.

The conference aimed to critically examine the role played by international, regional and national institutions in holding corporations (in particular multinational corporations) effectively accountable for violations of human rights law in light of the imperatives of social and ecological justice and inter-generational equity. The discussions were highly contextualized with references to case studies in natural resources governance in selected countries and regions, in particular Africa, Asia and Latin America. The conference further evaluated the case for a global legal framework for the liability of and law enforcement against corporate groups and their directors, employees, managers and shareholders for human rights abuses, taking account of the existing initiatives and human rights standards such as the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the work of the former UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights, John Ruggie and the ongoing negotiations of the UN Draft Business & Human Rights Treaty.

The conference included four panels and three keynote speeches with renowned scholars and practitioners in the fields of business, human rights and natural resources law. The keynote speeches were delivered by world leading scholars: Professor Penelope Simons (University of Ottawa); Professor Jérémie Gilbert (University of Roehampton) and Professor Damilola S. Olawuyi (HBKU Law School, Qatar).

There was considerable interest in and publicity around the event, and it was very well attended with around 100 participants taking part across the world.

Edited recordings of the conference are available on YouTube split across day one and day two.

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