Christine Kaufmann, professor of public law, public international law and European law at the University of Zurich, has been an advocate for human rights in business for over 20 years. She founded the Centre of Human Rights Studies at UZH and has previously held numerous functions with business, government, inter-governmental and civil society organizations. Now Christine Kaufmann has been elected as the new Chair of the OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct (WPRBC). She will start her new role as of 1 January 2019.
Christine Kaufmann is a member of the Swiss Centre of Expertise in Human Rights (SCHR) and has in-depth experience with the OECD’s network of National Contact Points for Responsible Business Conduct. She is a leading academic in the field of business and human rights, with specific expertise in the financial sector, trade law and international investment law. “We’re very happy that a UZH scholar with such great expertise as Christine Kaufmann can now also make a difference on an international level,” says UZH Deputy President Gabriele Siegert.
Promoting responsible business management
In her new role, Christine Kaufmann will work closely with the 48 countries adhering to the guidelines as well as stakeholders from business, workers’ organizations and civil society to implement and develop the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. These cover all key areas of corporate responsibility, including due diligence for responsible supply chains. The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are the most comprehensive international instrument on responsible business conduct. They were developed in cooperation with states and stakeholders, and are thus widely supported.
However, Kaufmann states clearly that the guidelines are not an end in themselves. “The OECD’s slogan is ‘Better Policies for Better Lives’ – and this is also what motivates me: Using insights from research to shape and promote the implementation of these guidelines to create real change in the lives of people around the world,” explains Kaufmann. The past 10 years have seen a paradigm shift take place. “Today, responsible conduct such as checking supply chains for any child labor is standard practice for many companies. But we’re still a long way from reaching our goal. There are also many questions that concern states, such as how they can monitor companies’ compliance with the guidelines,” says Kaufmann.
The OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct includes the 48 countries that have adhered to the guidelines, namely the 36 OECD member countries, as well as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Peru, Romania, Tunisia and Ukraine, as well as the EU.