London Met student participates in major United Nations forum

A London Met student recently participated in a United Nations forum.

Date: 15 January 2018

Laura Perez Estevez, a Human Rights and International Conflict MA student, recently participated in a United Nations forum in Switzerland.

Laura was invited to attend the 6th World Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva based on her dissertation topic: “Do corporations have a responsibility to respect human rights?”

The UN forum offered her the opportunity to gain insightful knowledge about how companies can have a negative or positive social impact if they stand up against xenophobia and discrimination.

The main theme of the forum was the Third Pillar of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Specifically, how companies and states ensure access to fair, real and affordable redress mechanisms when human rights abuses occur.

After attending the forum, Laura concluded that some countries are leading the way regarding human rights, including France and the Law that establishes the “Duty of Vigilance” for large companies, and the United Kingdom due to the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

She said: “The unique space for dialogue offered by the United Nations Forums is an opportunity to immerse ourselves within a specific topic, to make relationships and to deepen in the different points of view in which a topic can be covered.

“The Business and Human Rights community only grows and grows, and it is increasingly diverse.”

The forum also explored the role that Human Rights Benchmarks, such as the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB), play in the forum’s topic, and how important it is for the future of business and human rights to accept the role of lawyers in the development of effective Human Rights Due Diligence mechanisms. 

The UN forum is the world’s largest annual gathering on business and human rights with more than 2,000 participants from government, business, community groups and civil society, law firms, investigator organisations, UN bodies, national human rights institutions, trade unions, academia and the media.

Laura continues to research the link between businesses and human rights on her website, which aims to provide knowledge and debate on this important topic.