On June 28, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) and its partners at the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) launched the Business and Human Rights Documentation (B-HRD, or “Be Heard”) Project. The portal provides grassroots groups, NGOs, experts, advocates, academics, and the public with vital information about the human rights impact of business activities, and with much needed advocacy tools to hold businesses accountable in a globalized world.
The multi-lingual B-HRD site is the culmination of three years of work, developed with the support of students from NYU Law's International Human Rights Clinic under the supervision of Professor Smita Narula, and ESCR-Net’s Corporate Accountability Working Group, led by Program Officer Nicholas Lusiani. Funded through a grant by the Wallace Global Fund, B-HRD represents the first large-scale effort to collect and categorize human rights reporting on business-related human rights abuses, making the information easily accessible to corporate accountability advocates worldwide. The website also details the methods used by human rights defenders to hold businesses responsible for their actions, as well as a tools and strategies forum to help advocates learn best practices and share their own experiences.
"Human rights defenders around the world are fighting the same fight against many of the same corporate actors, but until today they haven’t had a common forum where they could share their strategies and challenges," said Narula. "Learning from these common struggles is now more important than ever as corporations increasingly dominate a globalized world in the absence of proper regulatory frameworks. We believe that B-HRD is going to be a vital and powerful tool in the fight against corporate impunity."
"We’ve tried to figure out what is the most optimal, intuitive approach to the mass of data that exists on corporate human rights," said Jimmy Pan '12, one of the International Human Rights Clinic members who worked extensively on the project. "We also wanted to bring in a wider audience to the battle [particularly] people interested in interfacing with corporate world: investors, the general public, [and] researchers and students concerned about the corporate impact on human rights."
As part of the launch, CHRGJ hosted a panel discussion on corporate accountability documentation issues, featuring Narula, Lusiani, Pan, and CHRGJ Associate Jenae Noell, alongside Katherine Gallagher, senior staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, Lisa Misol, senior researcher for the Business and Human Rights Program of Human Rights Watch, and Annabel Short, program director for the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre.