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CGHR Expert Practitioner Series: Working in Human Rights, Peacebuilding, Humanitarian Aid and Development

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Annette LaRocco.

Talk will be followed by drinks reception in the Alison Richard Building.

The Centre of Governance and Human Rights (CGHR) has launched a practitioner seminar series, partnering with expert speakers from key organisations to delve into the gritty realities of what working in field like human rights and international development really involves.

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John Morrison has been Executive Director of the Institute for Human Rights and Business ( since April 2009. IHRB is a global ‘think and do’ tank based in London, Geneva, Brussels, Nairobi and Yangon and works impartially with governments, businesses, civil society and trade unions. The Institute’s Patron is Mary Robinson (the former President of Ireland) and Chairperson is Professor John Ruggie (former UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights). The Institute’s work includes thematic work on a number of issues (such as water, land, migrant workers, post-conflict), specific sectors (such as ICT , Oil and Gas, Mining, Infrastructure, Finance) and specific geographies including the European Union, Arctic, East Africa, Myanmar (Burma) and Colombia, The Institute works closely with processes in the UN, OECD , EU, World Bank Group and within a number of national jurisdictions.

Previously, John was Director of the Business Leaders Initiative on Human Rights ( from 2003-9 and Head of Global Campaigns and Community Affairs for The Body Shop International 1999-2003. He has been a Harkness Fellow to the USA (1996-7) and has written widely on business and human rights, as well as other human rights issues such as refugee policy, trafficking and forced labour. John was Deputy Co-ordinator of the UK Bosnia Programme between 1993-97 based with the British Refugee Council.

The sphere of work known variously as the ‘Third Sector’, ‘Development and Humanitarian Aid’ or simply – doing good in tough places – is notoriously impenetrable, and frustratingly difficult to navigate for the uninitiated. For somebody hoping to pursue a career within this field, the range of agencies and institutions, initiatives and centres is at the very least bewildering. Most areas intersect, and organisations work with an array of crosscutting issues and contexts. Yet what at first glance can appear to be a morass of very similar organisations doing generally related things, is in fact often sharply delineated, with different sectors requiring surprisingly different competencies and operating under quite specific mandates. Working as an international human rights advocate would demand a different skill set and working environment from a project officer of a first phase emergency response – and both would have relatively different routes to entry. And a Master’s degree isn’t always the best option. Cambridge University educates and trains many of the best young minds in the country and provides a critical insight into the issues surrounding international politics, security, development and humanitarianism. But with little clarity around what is involved in working in this sector, attempting to translate this theoretical knowledge into a meaningful start to a career can be a minefield. With this in mind, the CGHR series will allow students to listen and speak to a selection of high-level experts working in these fields, and address key issues and questions. There will be four one-and-a-half hour seminars throughout Lent 2013, designed to equip students with an in-depth and critical look at what each area involves; the type of work carried out, contingent challenges and essential competencies. The first hour will introduce the speaker, chaired by a discussant from CGHR , and will open up to the audience in the second hour to provide the opportunity for students to engage with the topics discussed.

This talk is part of the Centre of Governance and Human Rights Events series.

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