September 7, 2011 — John G. Ruggie, the former U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Business and Human Rights and current Harvard professor, has joined Foley Hoag LLP’s Corporate Social Responsibility Practice as a senior advisor.
Ruggie authored the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which the U.N. Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed in June after six years of development. The Guiding Principles set a standard of practice that is now expected of companies with regard to human rights. They also make recommendations to governments and are likely to affect legal and policy developments at national and international levels.
Key elements of the Guiding Principles have also been incorporated into the updated OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, under which complaints can be brought against companies in the 42 adhering countries. And the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank, has updated its sustainability policy and corresponding performance standards it requires clients to meet to explicitly reference the business responsibility to respect human rights. More than 70 financial institutions worldwide and several national credit export agencies track the IFC standards.
As a senior advisor in Foley Hoag’s Corporate Social Responsibility Practice, Ruggie will help multinational companies navigate the Guiding Principles and apply them to their global business practices. He will also provide broad-based guidance in the area of business and human rights. Ruggie will continue to serve as the Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights and International Affairs at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and as an Affiliated Professor in International Legal Studies at Harvard Law School.
Foley Hoag’s Corporate Social Responsibility Practice advises multinational corporations, governments, and multilateral institutions on a range of social, political, and environmental issues in the global business marketplace. Foley Hoag helps clients anticipate social, ethical, and environmental accountability challenges and limit their risks by incorporating internationally recognized standards into their strategies and operations and relationships with stakeholders.
Ruggie has long been involved in practical policy work, initially as a consultant to various agencies of the United Nations and the U.S. government. From 1997-2001 he served as U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Planning, where he was responsible for establishing and overseeing the U.N. Global Compact, now the world’s largest corporate citizenship initiative; proposing and gaining General Assembly approval for the Millennium Development Goals; advising Secretary-General Kofi Annan on relations with Washington; and broadly contributing to the effort at institutional renewal for which Annan and the United Nations as a whole were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.
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