Author of U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to Join Foley Hoag

John G. Ruggie, U.N. Special Representative for Business and Human Rights, Will Join Corporate Social Responsibility Practice

July 26, 2011

Foley Hoag LLP will expand its Corporate Social Responsibility Practice with the addition of John G. Ruggie, the recent U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Business and Human Rights and current Harvard professor, who will join the firm’s Boston office in September as a senior advisor.

Ruggie authored the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which the U.N. Human Rights Council formally endorsed in June after six years of development. The principles provide high-level guidance to companies on managing the human rights impacts of their operations and are likely to affect national law and policy in jurisdictions worldwide.

Key elements of the Guiding Principles have also been incorporated into the updated OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and into ISO26000, a new social responsibility standard adopted by the International Organization for Standardization. The International Finance Corporation, the private-sector arm of the World Bank, has revised its policy and performance standards for clients to recognize explicitly for the first time the business responsibility to respect human rights.

As a senior advisor in Foley Hoag’s Corporate Social Responsibility Practice, Ruggie will help multinational companies navigate the Guiding Principles and apply them to their global business practices. He will also provide broad-based guidance in the area of business and human rights. Ruggie will continue to serve as the Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights and International Affairs at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and as an Affiliated Professor in International Legal Studies at Harvard Law School after he joins the firm.

“John Ruggie is one of the premier authorities on corporate citizenship and responsibility,” said Adam Kahn, Foley Hoag co-managing partner. “He joins an internationally recognized team of lawyers who advise clients on business issues throughout the world, and he is a welcome addition to the firm.”

Foley Hoag’s Corporate Social Responsibility Practice advises multinational corporations, governments, and multilateral institutions on a range of social, political, and environmental issues in the global business marketplace. Foley Hoag helps clients anticipate social, ethical, and environmental accountability challenges and limit their risks by incorporating internationally recognized standards into their strategies and operations and relationships with stakeholders.

“The Corporate Social Responsibility Practice we have built at Foley Hoag during the past decade provides clients with unparalleled insight into their operations,” said Gare Smith, a Washington-based partner and chair of Foley Hoag’s Corporate Social Responsibility Practice. “They can depend on us to consider their business objectives in any solution we propose. To have John Ruggie join us further strengthens this level of service, and will allow us to help clients apply the Guiding Principles and more effectively manage their stakeholder-related risks.”

Now that the focus has moved on to implementation of the Guiding Principles, the opportunity to apply his unparalleled international policy experience with a leading corporate social responsibility practice was a key reason Ruggie decided to join Foley Hoag.

“Joining Foley Hoag, with a talented group of corporate social responsibility lawyers, is a great fit and gives me the opportunity to help companies apply these standards on an international scale,” Ruggie said. “The aim is for companies to avoid involvement in human rights harm in the first place, and to remediate harm where it does occur.”

Ruggie has long been involved in practical policy work, initially as a consultant to various agencies of the United Nations and the U.S. government. From 1997-2001 he served as U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Planning, where he was responsible for establishing and overseeing the U.N. Global Compact, now the world’s largest corporate citizenship initiative; proposing and gaining General Assembly approval for the Millennium Development Goals; advising Secretary-General Kofi Annan on relations with Washington; and broadly contributing to the effort at institutional renewal for which Annan and the United Nations as a whole were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.

About Foley Hoag LLP

Foley Hoag provides innovative, strategic legal services to public, private and government clients across the globe. We have premier capabilities in the life sciences, healthcare, technology, energy, professional services and investment management fields, and in cross-border disputes. Our professionals  possess the skills  and experience to provide exceptional senior level service to clients ranging from startups to multinational companies to sovereign states. For more information, visit www.foleyhoag.com or follow @FoleyHoag on Twitter.