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Dr Michael Addo (left) with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon (right)

Outside the UN headquarters

Building research power to tackle global challenges

Dr Michael Addo, Senior Lecturer and Director of Student Experience in Law

In 2011, the UN Human Rights Council endorsed guiding principles on business and human rights, providing, for the first time, a global standard for businesses to prevent, address and remedy human rights abuses. These guiding principles recognise a state’s obligations to respect and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms; the responsibility of business enterprises to respect human rights; and the need for the abuse of rights to be remedied.

One of the original five international experts appointed to implement these guiding principles was Dr Michael Addo, Senior Lecturer in the Law School. Michael’s role within the UN has been to develop guidance for national governments, to help them create National Action Plans around how businesses adhere to human rights.

Through Michael’s work, governments have been able to pass laws making human rights a condition of a corporation’s business dealings and formalized the expectation that businesses will work to protect and respect people’s human rights. The guidance may be used to ensure people in conflict zones, and vulnerable groups, such as women and indigenous people, are included in National Action Plans. Michael works with government agencies and institutions across the world, including Germany, Korea, Malaysia, Kenya, Ghana, Switzerland and Chile. With the aid of the guidance, ten countries have so far launched National Action Plans, with thirty more at various stages of preparation.