Michael Kourabas

Trained as a lawyer, I now focus on legal business development, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and business & human rights. My past experience includes work on complex commercial litigation, international human rights advocacy, education policy, pro bono legal representation, and analysis of CSR challenges in both the private and public sectors.

Levi Strauss

A Sustainable Supply Chain “Race to the Top”

Levi Strauss & Co. is hoping that, by incentivizing its worldwide web of suppliers to operate more responsibly, it can create what it is calling a sustainability “race to the top” in its supply chain.

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Bananas, the Colombian Civil War and the U.S. Supreme Court

Last week, a group of Colombian plaintiffs asked the Supreme Court to revive their lawsuit against banana giant Chiquita. This case presents an opportunity for the Supreme Court to clarify its 2013 decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Shell and give much needed guidance to plaintiffs and businesses regarding when a corporation may be liable under U.S. law for human rights abuses committed abroad.

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Young v. UPS and the Rights of Pregnant Women in the Workforce

Last week, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Young v. UPS, a case that could change the way pregnant women are treated by their employers. The case will force conservative justices to choose between two core right-wing constituencies: anti-choice activists and pro-business groups.

cotton

Forced Labor Occuring Now in Uzbekistan’s Cotton Fields

In addition to offending all notions of civil liberties, the Uzbek forced labor system is just plain bizarre. For example, one’s work boss is also one’s boss in the cotton fields and, incredibly, cotton-picking skills may “become a component of annual job evaluations, skewing decisions on promotions.”

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Human Rights Guidance for Corporate Lawyers

Last week, the International Bar Association (IBA) issued guidance — the first of its kind — to bar associations, private lawyers and law firms about how to integrate the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights into their work.

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Cambodian “Reintegration” Program Sends Sex Workers to Sweatshops

In case you still weren’t sure how you felt about labor practices in Cambodia’s growing apparel manufacturing sector, maybe this will help get you off the fence. According to a short video posted by VICE News last week, female sex workers arrested in Cambodia are being forced into jobs in the country’s infamously inhumane garment industry. If this is true, what to make of it?

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Walmart Commits to More Sustainable Food. Is it Serious?

On Monday, Walmart held its second semi-annual Global Sustainability Milestone Meeting and announced a new pledge to help create a more sustainable food system. Taken at face value, the country’s largest food retailer appears to be making a real commitment to help develop a healthier, more affordable, and less environmentally damaging food supply. But how exactly is it planning to increase the sustainability of the food it buys and sells?

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U.S. Promises Action on U.N. Human Rights Principles

Last week, the U.S. State Department announced that the government would develop a National Action Plan to “promote and incentivize responsible business conduct,” in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).