Business and Human Rights Catalyst

One of the most significant developments in global governance in the past decade has been the assigning of human rights responsibilities to business.

Viewing business as a way to protect and promote human rights in the face of major social and political challenges is revolutionary. The proposal to extend human rights responsibilities to corporations is outlined in the ground-breaking UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which have been widely adopted into national and international regulation.

The Business and Human Rights Catalyst is one of the first human rights programmes worldwide hosted by a business school. It aims, through world-leading research and policy recommendations, to have a real impact on the rights of some of the most vulnerable people in society. It seeks to serve as a safe space for inter-disciplinary discussions between academics, policy setters and businesses on the role of the private sector in relation to fundamental rights.

The initiative is led by Professor Ken McPhail, Alliance MBS' Director of Research, and coordinated by Dr Lara Bianchi.

What we do

  • Define the challenges of the businesses’ responsibility to respect human rights.
  • Engage key actors in an informed and action-oriented discussion.
  • Inform the academic, social and political debate.
  • Shape future policy and corporate practice.
  • Impact the realization of rights.
  • Use accounting as a technology for implementing Human Rights due diligence and for accessing remedy procedures.
  • Build a bridge between human rights activists and lawyers with business schools and professional bodies.

The assigning of human rights responsibilities to business is a highly complex matter. Interdisciplinarity is essential to achieving a good understanding of the issues involved. Within the University of Manchester, we set up close collaborations with:

  • the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute,
  • the Migration Lab,
  • the Global Development Institute,
  • the School of Law,
  • the Department of Psychology at BMH.

Research topics

  • Modern-day slavery
  • Contemporary refugee and migrant movements
  • Human rights in the digital era
  • The role of the investment community
  • Gender equality in Global Value Chains