Exeter Law School
Today’s speaker with the seminar co-convenors. L-R: Kubo Mačák (Exeter), Ruvi Ziegler (Reading), Harriet Moynihan (Chatham House), Ana Beduschi (Exeter), Lawrence Hill-Cawthorne (Bristol).

Harriet Moynihan Speaks on Corporate Responsibility and Civic Freedoms at Exeter

Posted by Mark

6 December 2023

On 30 November 2023, Exeter Law School hosted a talk by Harriet Moynihan (International Law Programme, Chatham House) titled “Upholding civic freedoms as part of geopolitical corporate responsibility”, part of the ongoing Axis of Protection Seminar Series.

In her presentation, Moynihan delved into the critical role of businesses and investors as “geopolitical stakeholders” in today’s world. She emphasized the limited appreciation among businesses for essential elements like the rule of law, accountable governance, civic space, and freedoms. She highlighted the concerns over businesses overlooking civic freedoms, particularly in countries with repressive governments, and underscored the mutual benefits that business and civil society derive from strong civic institutions, rule of law, and freedoms of expression, association, and assembly.

“Today, some businesses are as powerful as States,” Moynihan underscored, arguing that they should live up to their responsibilities in the global governance ecosystem. She advocated for a shift in awareness, culture, and process among businesses, emphasizing the need for comprehensive human rights due diligence to support the rule of law and civic freedoms. Her talk was based on a recently published Chatham House research paper with the title “Investors and the ESG blind spot: Upholding civic freedoms as part of geopolitical corporate responsibility”.

Harriet Moynihan is an Associate Fellow in the International Law Programme at Chatham House. Harriet’s research focuses on business, geopolitics and human rights; the application of international law in responsible state behaviour in cyberspace; the regulation of social media and AI; and China and international law. Prior to joining Chatham House, Moynihan was a legal adviser at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The event was co-organized by the Universities of Bristol, Exeter, and Reading and co-sponsored by the Exeter Centre for International Law. It was also featured as an Exeter Law School staff research seminar. The Axis of Protection Seminar Series has run since 2013 and is funded by a Society of Legal Scholars Small Research Grant.

Image: Harriet Moynihan with the seminar co-convenors. L-R: Kubo Mačák (Exeter), Ruvi Ziegler (Reading), Harriet Moynihan (Chatham House), Ana Beduschi (Exeter), Lawrence Hill-Cawthorne (Bristol).

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