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LLM International Business Policy Geneva trip main body image

Dr Mike Addo with students Bérénice Fonlladosa, Soni Siddhi and Charlie Shwenn (from l-r) 

LLM International Business Policy and Human Rights class visit Geneva

The LLM International Business Policy and Human Rights Law class 2014-2015 travelled to Geneva, Switzerland for 3 days in December to observe the proceedings of 3rd Annual forum on Business and Human Rights at the Palais des Nations.

Here the students share their experiences of the trip:

"The aim of the visit was to gain a practical knowledge of the UN system and become better acquainted with ongoing developments in the field. In a 2011 Resolution the Human Rights Council established, on the recommendation of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on the Issue of Business and Human Rights, that an annual Forum should be held in order to bring together relevant stakeholders and share good practices on the issue of transnational corporations’ relationship with the global human rights agenda. All three days were arranged into ‘parallel sessions’ of seminar-type discussion on different aspects of the field. Also, we were fortunate to attend a plenary opening ceremony where various delegates from the business world (including the CEOs of Unilever and Nestlé), governmental representatives and non-governmental organisations delivered welcoming remarks. 

While observing various parallel session on specific themes developed our more detailed knowledge about specific, nuanced areas, we found as a group that our broad, overall understanding about the ‘business and human rights landscape’, was completely transformed; we gained an invaluable insight into the reality of how our academic studies translate to practical action and about various perspectives such as those of the corporation, the many NGOs attending, governments and the UN as an institution. During all these sessions, we had the opportunities to meet highly distinguished representatives of organisations around the world including the Special Representative himself, Professor John Ruggie. 

The trip was a fantastic opportunity to observe how a diversity of institutions interact on a global scale. The pace of discussion was so rapid and specific that we were forced to work hard (after overcoming our initial shock!) in order to keep up. However we found that, once we fully engaged with the issues under discussion in the panel sessions, not only were they extremely interesting and thought-provoking but crucially they enhanced our knowledge and understanding in a way that being in an Amory Building seminar room never could. The entire event was very inspiring, we found that being on the ‘cutting-edge’ of the business and human rights conversation refocused our minds on how uniquely interesting this highly dynamic area of law is.

We are grateful to the John User Fund for their support for our trip and we strongly recommend this truly once-in-a-lifetime experience to all prospective postgraduate students. It has been the highlight of our LLM experience so far!"

For the programme, web casts and lists of participants at the Forum, see the UN Human Rights website

Date: 8 January 2015

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