Experts, business leaders, UN officials gather at SMU to discuss ‘Business & Human Rights'

16 Jul 2012
Singapore Management University hosts 5th annual Summer Institute in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

(Singapore, 16 July 2012, Monday) – Singapore Management University (SMU) is hosting the fifth annual Summer Institute in International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and Human Rights between 16 and 26 July 2012. The course saw a gathering of distinguished experts from 19 countries in the Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Europe and the United States, including lawyers, policy-makers, United Nations (UN) and ASEAN officials, NGO practitioners and key business representatives, who, in the week ahead, will discuss and examine issues relating to ‘Business and Human Rights' in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Summer Institute is a regionally based workshop held in partnership with organisations in Southeast Asia to consider key IHL and human rights issues, past and present, facing the region. Established in 2008 by the Asian International Justice Initiative, a collaborative project between the East-West Center and the War Crimes Studies Center, the Summer Institute is designed for participants working across a broad range of fields and disciplines within the Asia Pacific region or whose work has an Asia Pacific focus.

The spotlight at this year's Summer Institute is on ‘Business and Human Rights'.  Discussion will focus on the responsibilities of corporations in respecting human rights.  Faculty and participants will also examine and discuss case studies, trends, and challenges faced in various sectors and regions within the Asia-Pacific. Case studies include discussion on risks and opportunities for business in conflict-affected countries such as Burma, land eviction concerning Boeung Kak Lake in Cambodia, natural resources extraction and management.

Professor David Cohen, Director of the War Crimes Studies Center and the East-West Center's Asian International Justice Initiative remarked, "We are very pleased to be returning to Singapore and the SMU this year, and we look forward to a rich regional dialogue on this important issue between faculty participants from ASEAN and beyond."

Professor Yeo Tiong Min, Dean, SMU School of Law, said, “We are proud to host the annual Summer Institute with our distinguished international partners for the second year running. Responsible and ethical corporate governance is an important field of research and teaching for SMU, and in this context human rights protection is of growing significance, especially given the framework and guiding principles developed by Harvard's Professor John Ruggie and adopted by the UN Human Rights Council last year.”

“Taught and led by UN experts, renowned academics and business leaders, the Summer Institute at the SMU School of Law is well-placed to train business executives and students to respect human rights in the region,” he added.

For the first time, the Summer Institute is hosting representatives of the UN Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, which has recently published its first official report. Dr Puvan Selvanathan, who serves as both the Asia representative and Working Group Chair, and Dr Alexandra Guaqueta, Latin America representative of the group, will shed light on the new UN mechanism's practical scope and engage with participants on how to maximise the mechanism's impact in the region.

The Summer Institute also brings together leading organisations, such as the Institute for Human Rights and Business and EarthRights International, who will discuss the findings of recently launched reports focusing on corporate responsibility within the region.

Additionally, this year's participants will benefit immensely from a distinguished faculty comprising eminent practitioners and experts from the region. They include:

•  Mr Richard Magnus, Singapore Representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights;

•  Mr Rafendi Djamin, Indonesia Representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights;

•  H.E. Ong Keng Yong, Singapore's High Commissioner to Malaysia;

•  Mr Salil Tripathi, Policy Director, Institute of Human Rights & Business;

•  Mark Hodge, Executive Director of the Global Business Initiative on Human Rights; and

•  Professor Hans Petter Graver, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Oslo.

About the Summer Institute in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Established in 2008 by the Asian International Justice Initiative, the Summer Institute is a collaborative project between the East-West Center and the War Crimes Studies Center, and is designed for participants working across a broad range of fields and disciplines within the Asia Pacific region or whose work has an Asia Pacific focus.

Other partners include institutions from Asia, the United States and Europe, namely: SMU School of Law, the University of Zurich Competence Centre for Human Rights, the Human Rights Resource Center for ASEAN (HRRC), and the International Institute for Child Rights and Development (IICRD).

Summer Institute 2012 is made possible through generous contributions by multiple sponsors, in particular the Centre for International Law (CIL) at the National University of Singapore, and the audit and consultancy group Mazars.

For further information on the Summer Institute, please visit http://www.eastwestcenter.org/lfM

About the SMU School of Law

SMU School of Law proudly welcomed its first cohort of 116 students in August 2007.  Taught by a dynamic faculty with postgraduate degrees from renowned universities such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol and London, the School aims to nurture its students to become excellent lawyers who will contribute significantly to society.  Trained with the ability to contextualise legal expertise and to think across disciplines and geographical borders coupled with SMU's interactive pedagogy, SMU's law graduates are confident articulate and analytically agile.

he Law School offers a four-year full-time Bachelor of Laws programme, a five-year double-degree programme which combines law with either Accountancy, Business, Economics, Information Systems or Social Sciences, and a Master of Laws programme.  The School has also launched a full-time graduate programme, the Juris Doctor Programme which can be completed within three years, and in some cases, accelerated for completion within two years.

Last updated on 27 Feb 2013.