The American human rights activist Kerry Kennedy was one of several speakers putting human rights, global development and corporate responsibility on the agenda at the NHH Symposium in Bergen this week.
Photos: Djordje Micovic/NHH Symposium
This week, Norwegian corporations, academics and students gathered to exchange perspectives, thoughts and ideas at the student driven NHH Symposium, at Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) in Bergen. The Rafto Foundation has collaborated with the Symposium since 2018, and contributed with speakers within the human rights/business field, workshops and capacity building for the Symposium board members.
- We are humble and proud that the students are making human rights the cross cutting issue this year, said Jostein Hole Kobbeltvedt, Executive Director at Rafto Foundation on stage together with NHH Rector Øystein Thøgersen.
The human rights aspect was put to the agenda by the prominent activist Kerry Kennedy, President of the Robert F. Kennedy Foundation:
“What do you know abut the companies you are investing in? Are they polluting, using child labour, involved in corruption or gender based violence? If you do not take this into account in your risk assessments, it is a ticking timebomb that can go off any time. Look at the cases of Benetton, Nike, Enron, BP and Boeing. These are real risks."
"On the other hand, you can make a positive change. Freedom and human rights is a good investment, companies with a strong human rights culture succeed the most,” said Kennedy in her speech.
The NHH Symposium also included workshops on modern slavery, speeches by activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Victor Ochen, leader of the African Youth Initiative and Rafto Prize Laureate 2018, Adam Bodnar. The Rafto Foundation arranged a roundtable meeting prior to the conference, where main players in the business sector in Norway met international human rights experts to discuss what challenges businesses are facing when it comes to human rights responsibility in their operations.
Business and human rights has in recent years been one of the Rafto Foundation's core activities, where the object is to promote corporate responsibility to respect human rights, and to build capacity among students.