Sometimes one person can really make a difference.
I do not exactly remember when I first heard the name John Ruggie, or in what circumstances. But I remember being very doubtful when I realized that he was about to start a process: trying to achieve a common understanding on something as complicated as business and human rights.
Being a bit cynical, and having been involved in political procesesses and treaty negotiations, I couldn’t prevent an instant reaction: common understanding would definetely mean lots of compromises where human rights would lose to business power.
After some ten years, I’m more than happy to see how wrong I was. No doubt, there might have been compromises, but then, on the other hand: I would think that one of the most important qualities of a good facilitator and negotiator is an ability to make intelligent compromises so that everyone involved has a winning feeling.
The success of the ”Ruggie Principles”, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, proves that many stakeholder groups – dare I say, most of them? – consider themselves as winners. Now, every state and company should know what is expected from them when it comes to the duties and responsibilities to protect and respect human rights. Fair, isn’t it?
In your opinion: what are the most important factors behind this success? The person and his skills? The person and the brilliant team he has worked with? The nature of the process? Was the timing just perfect? Or perhaps the business world received an offer they could not afford to deny?