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.

Uzbek citizens work the fields during the 2009 cotton harvest.

SPECIAL SERIES: From Farm to Factory: A 3 Part Series on Social Impacts in Apparel

Forced Labor Continues in Uzbek, Turkmen Cotton Fields

Once again this year, the government of Uzbekistan forcibly mobilized its citizens to the cotton fields to prepare carry out the 2015 harvest of the country’s “white gold.” Worse still, according to the Cotton Campaign and other observers, the forced labor practices of Uzbekistan are now being employed by the government in neighboring Turkmenistan as well.

DuPont

The Case of DuPont’s Pollution and the Importance of CSR

The story of DuPont’s ongoing pollution in West Virginia is expertly detailed in the most recent New York Times Magazine. The account underscores just how crucial is today’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) “movement” and suggests that we cannot continue to rely on government and private lawyers to police corporate behavior.

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How Some Long-Term Investors are Fighting for Sustainability

Last week, Ceres released an illuminating analysis of how some major companies are responding to shareholder engagement on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. It shows that many long-term investors are fighting for sustainability — and companies are, for the most part, responding in kind.

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BSR and the State of Corporate Responsibility

Last week, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) and GlobeScan released their 7th annual State of Sustainable Business Report. Given BSR’s impressive membership provides a one-of-a-kind overview of what major businesses across the globe think about sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR). It also suggests that consumers who care about CSR and sustainability could be doing a whole lot more to pressure corporations to act.

These children are just a few of the thousands of refugees living in Myanmar.

Multinational Businesses and the Plight of the Rohingya

Even in a more open and democratic Burma, the Rohingya, an ethnic Muslim minority, continue to suffer. And there isn’t a single actor — governmental, corporate or otherwise — willing to take responsibility.

A plantain farmer walks through a banana plantation in Quindió, Colombia.

SCOTUS to Foreign Victims of Corporate Human Rights Abuse: Stay Away

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear plaintiffs’ appeal in Cardona v. Chiquita Brands International, a lawsuit brought by victims of terrorism and crimes against humanity in Colombia. The Court may also have, once and for all, shut the door to the American courts for individuals harmed by American corporations abroad.

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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.”