Students Staff

Archived seminar

Business and Human Rights: China v. USA (Speaker series)

John Morrison , Executive Director from Institute for Human Rights and Business

At 13:00 in 5.300B, Tuesday 25 November.


Business and Human Rights has become a global agenda, with all governments supporting the United Nations Guiding Principles in 2011, but for different reasons. This year China has supported Ecuador's call for the development of a binding treaty whilst the USA has not. However, both governments have recently made commitments on national implementation over recent weeks, President Obama in terms of a national action plan, whilst the recent Plenum of the China Communist Party has made commitments on issues such as rule of law, CSR, human rights and conflict minerals.

What is going on? Is it convergence or distraction? How do China and the USA behave on the business and human rights agenda at home and in third countries, be in Myanmar or within East Africa? Despite wider human rights questions relating to both countries, which might score the highest on the specific issue of business and human rights? Come to the lecture, hear the case for each defendant and we will decide! It will be fun, with a little bit of serious intent (I will also be giving the same lecture within China and the USA over the next months and so the Essex lecture will help shape the criteria for scoring....).

  • John Morrison, Executive Director, Institute for Human Rights and Business

John Morrison is the Executive Director of the Institute for Human Rights and Business, an impartial global "think and do tank" with centres in Myanmar, Kenya and Colombia as well as staff in Europe, North America and as a consortium in China. He has extensive experience working with governments, business, NGOs and trade unions on issues of corporate responsibility and human rights. He worked previously with The Body Shop International plc and led the Business Leaders Initiative on Human Rights from 2003 to 2009. He has also worked for a number of civil society and governmental organisations on issues of migration, human trafficking and forced labour. John has acted as an advisor to a number of governments during their presidencies of intergovernmental organisations and has chaired a wide range of conferences and initiatives in many parts of the world. John's latest book is The Social Licence: How to keep your organization legitimate (Palgrave MacMillan).