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The Rights Track Sound evidence on human rights

Making human rights our business


In Episode 10 of The Rights Track, Todd talks to Professor Shareen Hertel from the University of Connecticut about the world of business and human rights. They discuss how the rights of poorer people can best be protected at work and how social and labour movements come together to prevent abuse and to lobby for change.

0.00-4.37

  • Shareen talks about spending time in the field as a human rights researcher and advocate trying to help poorer people get work and to protect them from human rights abuses in the workplace *How Shareen’s academic work has fed into debates around human rights more widely, what they are, how they work, people’s attitudes towards them and how the local level work feeds into our understanding
  • Discussion around how rights can emerge or be created as a result of social movements

4.37-10.20

  • How Shareen conducts human rights research in a business context including surveys and participant observations, interviews etc./ corroborating evidence external sources, coding articles/archive information etc to build a story around these sorts of struggles
  • What makes a successful rights movement? Shareen talks about pressures on poorer people and how NGOs and supporters can support social movements
  • Some of the challenges/diffiulties that can emerge within social movements and how issues can be mediated/overcome

10.20-17.57

  • How movements for change emerge within a business setting such as a factory where working conditions may be an issue
  • How workers and consumers have a stake and responsibility in securing the human rights of workers creating products or providing services
  • Shareen discusses the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre’s 6,000 company database that she has been using to assess the human rights performance of different sectors using a business and human rights framework
  • How this work has prompted her to want to work more closely with the light manufacturing sector which is engaging least with workers’ groups
  • How the ‘portability’ of light manufacturing businesses reduces the incentive for businesses to engage in dialogue with labour movements
  • How the business and human rights framework can help companies make human rights a part of their own narrative
  • Why businesses serving the college/university market are doing better then most - because students will protest if they don’t. Shareen gives example of a Living Wage Company called Alta Gracia in the Dominican Republic

17.57-end

  • How does this translate to the consumer? discussion around whether people are prepared to pay more for ethical products
  • Public opinion surveys in the States show more than 50% of poplar prefer to pay more to consume ethically and they want to see how the worker benefits from them paying more
  • Making the business case for good practice. Shareen mentions the work of Richard Locke showing a clear link between productivity, product quality and human rights conditions
  • Todd refers to the Ruggie Principles on business and human rights and Shareen explains how her work is closely connected to them

Additional links provided by Shareen Hertel

Additional links provided by our partners at OpenGlobalRights

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