London book launch report – 29 Sept 2014


Thanks to the 110 of you who attended the London book launch on 29 September 2014 kindly hosted by Amnesty International UK on behalf of the Institute for Human Rights and Business and Palgrave MacMillan (the book publisher). The panel (pictured above) consisted – from left – of the chair Humphrey Hawksley (BBC), Ramanie Kunanayagam (BG Group), Peter Frankental (Amnesty International UK) and me (the author).

It was a vibrant discussion ranging from Shell Nigeria, BP Gulf of Mexico to supply chains in the apparel sector. All panelists recognised that the ‘social licence’ concept was an emerging one – but there was critical analysis of interpretations devoid of core concepts such as legitimacy and consent. Panellists challenged existing approaches to social responsibility in different ways. Arguably, there was consensus that the role of the private sector in relation to social impacts is an inevitable one – from the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals to the Internet Governance debate. What is needed are more robust conversations about the how non-state actors such as business impact on the pre-existing social contract in ways to do not undermine the state and ensure strong accountability.

We were particularly honoured to have Maria Saro-Wiwa (the widow of Ken Saro-Wiwa – the Nigerian activist murdered by the state in 1995) with us for the event. We must all work to ensure that  Ken’s legacy is not forgotten.


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