CPR Council Meeting
Preventing Human Rights Violations and Other Atrocities through an ESG Lens: How is Your Company Doing?
The last five years have seen explosive growth in laws and regulations relating to Environmental, Social, and Governance standards (ESGs) as a framework for sustainable business growth. Notably, the European Union’s recent legislation and regulations are dramatically changing how companies and investors approach ESGs and ESG-related due diligence and disclosure around the world. Under emerging ESG standards, companies will be required to look beyond their immediate corporate family and assess financial and non-financial data related to how their operations affect the societies in which they operate—both affirmatively and negatively. Historically, companies have often failed to consider how their actions may affect the societies in which they operate, including in regard to fueling, contributing, or even supporting atrocity outbreaks.
Owen Pell will discuss how the emerging EU ESG framework provides an ideal platform for engaging with businesses to integrate atrocity risk measurement and prevention into long-term corporate and investment strategies, particularly with respect to Social and Governance factors. He will assess the interplay between ESG-required data and diligence – including human rights performance, corruption, political stability, rule of law and effective remedies, and free and informed prior consent – and atrocity risk factors. He will also explore how companies can effectively mitigate these types of risks through long-term ESG practices and strategies, thereby making a positive impact on society while also enhancing business and shareholder value, and how those strategies will help businesses in their dispute management efforts, including preventing disputes related to these issues in the first place.
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Owen Pell is President of the Board of the Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities (www.auschwitzinstitute.org), and a member of the Board of the International Peace Institute (www.ipinst.org).
Owen is a retired partner of White & Case LLP, where he represented governments, banks, and companies in complex, cross-border disputes and arbitrations, and handled or advised on major cases involving business and human rights, including as to World War II and the Holocaust, Apartheid-era South Africa, and African slavery in the United States. Owen has lectured widely on ESG and business and human rights issues, and delivered a TED talk on “Diplomacy 2.0”, discussing ways in which multinational companies and NGOs can change how international legal norms are implemented. He also formulated a proposal that was endorsed by the European Parliament for addressing claims to works of art looted from individuals during the Holocaust.