JULY 30 EVENT: Beyond Business-As-Usual: Lessons from Workers, Communities and the Failed Experiment of Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives

For the past three decades, the corporate accountability and business and human rights communities have been in a process of experimentation, searching for interventions that protect people and the environment from corporate abuse. From treaties and due diligence, to naming-and-shaming and direct engagement, the efforts underway span far and wide.

MSI Integrity’s recent report examines one such experiment—international standard-setting multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs)—and provides a cautionary tale to guide present and future processes. MSIs emerged in the 1990s as an exciting proposition: civil society organizations would work alongside businesses to design novel systems of multi-stakeholder governance that aimed to protect rights holders from corporate abuse. Yet, after a decade of research and analysis, MSI Integrity has concluded that this experiment has failed in its goal of effectively protecting rights, and in its place, human rights initiatives and businesses with worker/community-centered governance and ownership models must become the norm to root out abuse.

This discussion will unpack the lessons from the failed MSI experiment and explore alternative business and human rights intervention models developed by rights holders and workers themselves. What makes them different and what considerations are prioritized? What are the impediments and obstacles for these initiatives, and how might they scale and grow? How can we promote more people-powered solutions to challenging corporate power?

On July 30, 10–11am ET, join the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School and MSI Integrity for a discussion with workers and their allies from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a worker-based human rights organization, as well as two members of the wider solidarity/new economy movement: Obran, an industrial conglomerate of worker-owned cooperatives, and Equal Exchange, a Fairtade worker co-op. The discussion will be facilitated by Krizna Gomez, Director of Programs at JustLabs, and live-illustrated by Sita Magnuson, Experience Designer & Educator at dpict.

Speakers will include:

– Joseph Cureton, Chief Coordinating Officer at Obran Cooperative
– Dr. Surya Deva, Member, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights
– Amelia Evans, Executive Director, MSI Integrity
– Daniel Fireside, Capital Coordinator, Equal Exchange
– Tyler Giannini, Co-Director and Clinical Professor, International Human Rights Clinic and Human Rights Program, Harvard Law School
– Gerardo Reyes Chavez, a key leader from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers

Register for the event here.

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