Human Rights Speaker Series: Racism and Business & Human Rights

  • Wed 24 Nov 21

    15:00 - 16:30

  • Online


  • Event speaker


  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Human Rights Centre Speaker Series

  • Event organiser

    Human Rights Centre

  • Contact details

    Law and HRC Events and Communications Team

Please join us for the latest Human Rights Speaker Series, hosted by the University of Essex Human Rights Centre and the Essex Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub.

Racism and Business & Human Rights

Video of George Floyd’s death sparked global demonstrations and prompted individuals, communities and institutions to grapple with their own roles in embedding and perpetuating racist structures. The raison d’être of Business and Human Rights (BHR) is to tackle structural corporate impediments to the universal realization of human rights. Yet, racism, one of the most obvious of such barriers, has been a blind spot for BHR. While the field has contended with gender inequality, there have only been tokenistic nods to intersectional harms caused by business activities. The failure to address racism seriously undermines both the promise of BHR generally and specifically the recognized need to redress intersectional harms experienced by women from racialized backgrounds. In their article ‘Reckoning: A Dialogue about Racism, AntiRacists, and Business & Human Rights,’ Professor Erika George, Professor Jena Martin, and Dr Tara Van Ho entered into a critical discussion on racism in the theory and practice of BHR. The result was both an opening salvo on the intersection of critical race theory and BHR and an identifiable research agenda for future scholarship in the area. In this discussion, the three established BHR scholars will continue their dialogue to consider what BHR needs to do in order to become an antiracist field.


Erika George is the Samuel D. Thurman Professor of Law at the S.J. Quinney College of Law and director of the Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah’s College of Humanities. She serves on the Board of Trustees of Earthjustice and is a member of the Fair Labor Association Board. Her new book Incorporating Rights: Strategies to Advance Corporate Accountability explores the responsibility of corporations to respect international human rights and various efforts to hold business enterprises accountable for alleged abuses.

Jena Martin is a Professor of Law at West Virginia University, where she has taught courses on Business Law & Ethics, Negotiations, and Corporate Governance and Accountability. Her research is in the field of business and human rights, where she has written extensively on many issues, including: incorporating the voices of communities into assessments of human right impacts; examining corporate governance for human rights assessments; and the intersection of securities regulation and human rights. She is the author of several articles on these subjects, including “The End of the Beginning? A Comprehensive Examination of the U.N.’s Business and Human Rights Agenda” (Fordham Journal of Corporate and Financial Law), which earned her WVU Law's Significant Scholarship Award and “Hiding in the Light: The Misuse of Disclosure to Advance the Business and Human Rights Agenda” (Columbia University Journal of Transnational Law).  Professor Martin has also co-edited and co-authored a number of books in the field of securities regulation and business and human rights, including “The Business and Human Rights Landscape: Moving Forward, Looking Back” (Cambridge University Press); “When the Levees Break: Re-visioning Regulation of the Securities Markets” (Lexington Books), and “Dying to be Heard: Businesses’ Impact of Communities” (Anthem Press). She has also presented her research at the United Nations. Professor Martin draws upon her extensive practice experience including her work as a senior counsel at the United States Securities & Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement and as a member of the Robert F. Kennedy’s Center for Human Rights Global Advisory Team.

Tara Van Ho is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Essex School of Law and Human Rights Centre. She is the co-Director of the Essex Business and Human Rights Project and the co-President of the Global Business and Human Rights Scholars Association





How to register

Wednesday 24 November 3:00-4:30pm GMT

Please register for this webinar via Zoom.

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