Practice

Global Business & Human Rights

Decades of experience and worldwide support

Our Global Business & Human Rights practice was the first to help clients implement internationally recognized human rights norms and environmental policies that align with legal requirements and emerging best practices – allowing them to be industry leaders while managing their risks. 

In today’s globalized economy, companies and organizations are held to higher standards regarding both respect for human rights and the social and environmental impacts of their operations. Legislators, business partners, investors, shareholders, consumers and civil society organizations expect your policies to accord with both nationally and internationally recognized standards. 

We advise clients on six continents regarding issues ranging from online privacy and freedom of expression to eliminating modern slavery from supply chains, and from Indigenous Peoples’ rights to ensuring that security providers demonstrate respect for rights-holders. We have helped to establish key normative standards and counseled on emerging expectations, including those framed by the U.N. Guiding Principles on Human Rights, International Labor Organization Conventions, the Global Network Initiative, and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.

If you are considering new policy proposals, we will assess your existing practices and identify areas for improvement and creative solutions for complex challenges. We can also offer guidance in developing the policies and action plans needed to improve performance, manage overall risk, safeguard your reputation, and demonstrate your commitment to responsible stewardship.

Areas of Focus

Our deep experience in global business and human rights includes:
  • Legal and regulatory compliance
  • Corporate and social responsibility (CSR)
  • Policy and standard developments
  • Human rights due diligence and impact assessments
  • Federal affairs and government strategies
  • Stakeholder engagement and crisis management

Key Contacts

Global Business & Human Rights Blog
Addressing the social, political and environmental challenges facing multinational companies, governments and multilateral institutions
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A Business and Human Rights Checklist for In-House Counsel
Human rights concerns present distinct challenges for in-house counsel. This checklist addresses the questions to consider.
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Experience

Foley Hoag has been advising companies on global business and human rights matters for decades. Some of our recent successes include:

HUMAN RIGHTS DUE DILIGENCE & IMPACT ASSESSMENTS
  • We conducted human rights assessments for Hess’s operations in Indonesia, Thailand, Equatorial Guinea, and Algeria. We evaluated the extent to which Hess effectively managed its policy commitments to the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, the U.N. Global Compact, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.  
  • Our team helped Talisman Energy coordinate its business strategies and social policies in developing countries and regions. We also helped set up internal company protocols to manage human rights-related risk. Our risk assessment and due diligence services for Talisman include comprehensive analyses regarding improving community relations and managing risks associated with labor and human rights issues, asset security, environmental stewardship and indigenous rights.
  • We served as the Study Directors for the precedent-setting Community Relationships Review undertaken by Newmont Mining Corporation. We prepared a comprehensive report for Newmont’s Board of Directors that drew key lessons from individual site reports prepared by five research teams that assessed community relationship concerns at Newmont operating sites in Ghana, Peru, New Zealand, Indonesia, and the United States.
  • Our team advised the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation on human rights-related risks associated with its global initiatives.

POLICY & STANDARD DEVELOPMENTS
  • We assisted Yahoo! on the development of its cutting-edge Business and Human Rights program, including its participation in the Global Network Initiative, a multi-stakeholder group formed to protect and advance freedom of expression and privacy in the ICT sector, and establishment of the Yahoo! Human Rights Fund, which provides assistance funding in support of freedom of expression over the Internet. 
  • We worked with The Carlyle Group regarding the integration of environmental, social and governance issues into both due diligence efforts on prospective investments and management plans for portfolio companies. 
  • We assisted Noble Energy in developing and benchmarking environmental and sustainability policies and standards concerning greenhouse gas emissions disclosures and water policies.

LEGAL & REGULATORY COMPLIANCE
  • We advised Hittite Microwave Corporation on compliance with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s conflict minerals rule, including on the development of effective corporate management systems and due diligence processes.
  • We provided guidance to NBTY, Inc. on compliance with the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act. Our counsel has included advice on the development of effective vendor guidelines and the preparation of public disclosures.

News & Insights

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Our attorneys share their points of view on business and commercial disputes matters.