Multi-stakeholder Initiative Workshop at NYU

On May 12 2014 AHRCentre Deputy Director Justine Nolan convened a workshop at the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights in collaboration with the Institute for Human Rights and Business on the impact and status of multistakeholder initiatives (MSIs) operating in the business and human rights sector. In a global economy, multinational companies often operate in jurisdictions in which governments are either unable or unwilling to provide basic rights for their citizens.  The failure of governments to establish and enforce rules has created complex corporate human rights challenges that no single actor can solve. In such situations, multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) are becoming the default response for addressing governance gaps. Particularly in response to crisis, forming an MSI often presents the most viable option to address human rights challenges in the business context.  The day long workshop was attended by MSI practitioners working in the manufacturing, ICT, security and environmental sectors along with a number of academics.  The workshop highlighted a number of issues common to MSIs across sectors including discussions on:  

  • ·         Establishing an effective and balanced board;
  • ·         Developing sustainable relationships with civil society;
  • ·         Setting transparency and reporting requirements;
  • ·         Moving beyond a monitoring and compliance focus;
  • ·         Sharing of best practices;
  • ·         Evaluating the effectiveness of the MSI and distinguishing between outputs and outcomes; and
  • ·         Engaging with governments both domestic and foreign.

A follow up discussion will be held later in 2014.