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Allen & Overy publishes eighth edition of The Business and Human Rights Review

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10 December 2020

Allen & Overy’s Human Rights Working Group is pleased to announce the publication of the eighth edition of The Business and Human Rights Review.

Allen Overy publishes eighth edition of The Business and Human Rights Review

As the world continues to battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, the resulting economic and social stress has brought many human rights issues to the fore, exacerbating systemic issues and generating new challenges. Yet the pandemic has also demonstrated our capacity for unprecedented structural change on a global level. As the world economies reopen and plan for the future, they are faced with a unique opportunity to consider the role of human rights in shaping the next era.

This edition of the Review begins with an interview with Fiona Reynolds, CEO of the Principles for Responsible Investment, who discusses the benefits of impact investing and the growing momentum towards responsible investment witnessed during the pandemic. 

Investors are not alone in this endeavour. There are regulatory efforts to develop human rights due diligence requirements in many countries, as well as on an inter-state level. Notably, the European Commission is due to introduce legislation in 2021 which will require all businesses in the European Union to undertake mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence. Sarah Morreau of Allen & Overy provides an analysis of recent regulatory developments across the globe, as well as several high-profile cases regarding potential corporate liability for human rights violations committed abroad. 

A unique insight into these developments is provided by Lise Smit of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law and Robert McCorquodale of Brick Court Chambers and the University of Nottingham, who summarise the findings of their study on due diligence requirements in supply chains. Further industry insight is provided in an interview with Théo Jaekel of Ericsson, who describes the company’s experience of navigating human rights due diligence in the technology sector.

Many responsible corporate citizens are considering opportunities to drive meaningful change, including through greater industry collaboration. John Roberti and Puja Patel of Allen & Overy discusses the potential for industry-wide agreements to create antitrust liability, even if they are motivated by doing good, and suggest ways to mitigate these risks.

The Review also includes an interview with Silvia Possenti of the International Labour Organization, who discusses the key drivers of child labour and modern slavery, and what businesses and other stakeholders can do to protect human rights within global supply chains, including through the use of digital technologies and artificial intelligence. 

While technology can be a powerful tool for businesses in identifying and preventing breaches of human rights, it comes with its own set of risks and limitations. Marija Manojlovic, Trang Ho Morton and Serena Tommasino of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, discuss the role of businesses in preventing and tackling online child sexual exploitation and abuse. In addition, Simon Chesterman of the National University of Singapore, discusses the opacity of artificial intelligence-driven systems, and the responsibilities that businesses could bear when relying on decisions made by such systems. 

For further information on this publication or the issues raised in it, please contact the editorial board at BHRR@allenovery.com.