Bridging the Gap between Business and Human Rights

Business law faculty in the marketing department hosted a colloquium titled, “Bridging the Gap between Business and Human Rights.” The event took place on May 14-15, 2013 at the UConn School of Business and was organized by Robert Bird, associate professor of business law in the School of Business and Northeast Utilities Chair in Business Ethics. Assistance was provided by Karla Fox, emeritus professor of business law and special assistant to the provost, and Michele Metcalf, program manager at the School of Business.

The purpose of this colloquium was to explore the potential for common ground between business and civil society groups in the area of human rights. Attendees at the conference explored how firms perceive and interact with human rights, examined how voluntary regulatory regimes can positively influence business behavior, and analyzed how multinational corporations can align their interests with human rights in their chosen markets.

This conference brought together academics from many different disciplines and universities. Authors included Norm Bishara, University of Michigan; Dan Cahoy, Pennsylvania State University; Lucien Dhooge, Georgia Institute of Technology; Janine Hiller, Virginia Tech; Radu Mares, Lund University; David Orozco, Florida State University; Stephen Park, University of Connecticut; and Jamie Prenkert, Indiana University.

From UConn, Shareen Hertel, associate professor of political science, Department of Political Science and Human Rights Institute, Lisa Laplante, interim director, Dodd Center, and Emma Gilligan, associate professor of history and co-director of the Human Rights Institute, gave valuable input during the conference. Executives in residence included Kate Emery ’81, CEO of the Walker Group and reSET (Social Enterprise Trust), and John F. Sherman III, general counsel, secretary, and senior advisor at the Shift Project.

School of Business Dean John Elliott gave opening remarks by emphasizing the importance of human rights and the timeliness of the conference. At the closing dinner, Anthony Ewing, Columbia University, presented the topic, “Teaching Business and Human Rights: an Emerging Discipline.”

The conference was sponsored by the UConn School of Business, the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, the UConn Human Rights Institute, the UConn Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), and the Northeast Utilities Chair in Business Ethics.

Papers from the conference will be published as a collection by Elgar Press in 2014.

Click here to view photos from the event.

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