PUBLIC SEMINAR: Business & Human Rights

March 29 will see La Trobe Business School present a seminar looking in depth at the impact of human rights on business and featuring guest speakers Alexandra Guáqueta, member United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights and 2011 Australian of the Year, Simon McKeon.

Image by Richard Hurd - 2011The Business and Human Rights Seminar asks whether business and business schools can contribute towards a more just world where human dignity is valued rather than undermined.

Organised by La Trobe Business School Professor Ken McPhail, the seminar is a response to an oversight by business and education institutions when it comes to promoting human rights. 

‘The preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights calls on every organ of society to teach and educate for the promotion of the rights the Declaration contains.’ says Professor McPhail. 

‘However, few if any business schools engage students in any kind of systematic or critical discussion of the relationship between business and human rights.’ 

The growing number of cases where large multinational corporations have been complicit in human rights violations, along with an increasing role for corporations in the provision of state services, has resulted in a number of new initiatives by the United Nations to bring the Universal Declaration to bear on business activity. 

A newly established UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights of which Alexandra Guáqueta is a member, is promoting the implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, endorsed by the UN and adopted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. 

The endorsement of the principles is widely regarded as one of the most significant developments in corporate social responsibility in the past decade.  

This inaugural public seminar of the La Trobe Business School begins to explore how the discourse of international human rights is shifting to focus on the responsibilities of corporations in relation to the protection and promotion of human rights. 

Business and Human Rights Seminar
Date: March 29 Presentations 2.30pm - 4.30pm (followed by light refreshments)
Venue: ACMI, Cinema 1, Federation Square Melbourne
Registrations: Register online now 

For more information, please visit:

More about the Guest Speakers

Simon McKeon

Named Australian of the Year in 2011, Simon McKeon is the Executive Chairman of Macquarie Group’s Melbourne office, Chairman of CSIRO and Business for Millennium Development and the Director of VisionFund, World Vision International’s microcredit arm, Global Poverty Project and Red Dust Role Models. 
He is an Australia Day Ambassador for the Victorian Government and serves on the Federal Government’s Human Rights Grants Scheme Advisory Panel and the Victorian Government’s NDIS Implementation Task Force.

He previously served as Founding President of the Federal Government’s Australian Takeovers Panel, Founding Chairman of MS Research Australia and Founding President of the Federal Government’s Point Nepean Community Trust.

Simon is the helmsman of Macquarie Innovation which in March 2009 became the first sailboat in the world to sustain more than 50 knots and in so doing, peaked at a speed of 100 kmh (54 knots).  
He is also a Patron of the Australian Olympic Sailing Team which won 2 gold and a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. 

Alexandra Guáqueta

Alexandra Guáqueta (D.Phil. in International Relations, Oxford) is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Council on Human Rights; Board member of Shift, the nonprofit created by former Ruggie team members to promote the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles and guest of the Human Rights Working Group of the Australian Global Compact Network

Alexandra joined Flinders University in 2011.  Before relocating to Australia in 2011, she was Head for Social Standards and International Engagement at the Cerrejón, where she led key policy changes on corporate social standards, as well as the implementation of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and the UN Ruggie human rights due diligence framework. 

From 2004-2008 Alexandra was Research Director of Fundación Ideas para la Paz, a nonprofit looking at peace and conflict in Colombia. There, she launched the Private Sector and Conflict Programme, which became one of the most influential spaces in Colombia shaping business understandings of their role in peace, the rule of law and human rights. 

Alexandra has worked for the International Peace Institute in New York, the Congressional Research Service in Washington and the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Stephen Scoglio
Senior Marketing Officer, Faculty of Business, Economics and Law 
T (03) 9479 1604 M 0421 347 816 E 

Feature image by Richard Hurd - 2011