To mark International Human Rights Day, 10th December, the Institute for Human Rights and Business has been identifying on the annual basis ten key issues that will be of particular importance in the arena of business and human rights in the year ahead. The 2020 Top Ten Issues includes a legislative trend towards mandatory human rights due diligence. In recent years, several states have taken steps to enact legislation which requires companies to undertake human rights due diligence and improve human rights performance in their own operations and/or within their supply chains. The Oxford Business and Human Rights Network is organising a series of events ‘Human Rights Due Diligence in Law and Practice’ to discuss the recent regional and national developments in this field with a group of leading practitioners and academics. The first panel will explore how mandatory human rights due diligence could advance human rights in business, existing examples of legislative initiatives and actual practice currently undertaken by businesses.

Phil Bloomer, Business and Human Rights Resource Centre

Phil is the Executive Director of Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, a digital action platform that empowers human rights advocates in civil society, business, government; tracks the human rights performance of over 9,000 companies around the world; and seeks corporate accountability for around 550 allegations of abuse each year. The Resource Centre also presses for policy and practice that drive fast and fair transitions to zero carbon economies; uphold labour rights; and protect civic freedoms.

Phil is a director of the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) that works with investors, and ranks the largest companies in high risk sectors regarding their human rights policy, practice and performance.

He was previously the Director of Campaigns and Policy at Oxfam, where he led global campaigns on climate justice, trade and investment for development, access to medicines, and major humanitarian crises. Previously, Phil worked for 11 years in Central America and Colombia working on human rights, especially indigenous rights, and broader economic justice.


Matthew Waller, Ergon Associates

Matthew Waller is Senior Consultant at Ergon Associates. Ergon Associates is an independent, specialist consultancy that provide strategic and advisory services on human rights, labour standards and gender. Ergon works with a wide range of clients from large international organisations such as the World Bank Group and ILO, major international brands and retailers, certifiers, sports bodies, and multi-stakeholder initiatives. Ergon has published a number of public reports that analyse company disclosures under the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015, and has promoted greater transparency and reporting under the legislation by working closely with clients on improving their modern slavery and human rights due diligence practices.

Matthew joined Ergon in 2015. In this time he has delivered projects for clients in a number of sectors, including construction, oil and gas, agriculture, garments, sports. He has also developed guidance resources and tools to support improved management of specific human rights issues. His primary professional areas of expertise are:

  • modern slavery and forced labour
  • rights of migrant workers
  • rights of workers in sub-contracted services and activities
  • human rights abuses in global supply chains
  • remedy of human rights impacts

He has also worked in Punjab, India on issues including bonded labour, freedom of association, caste and gender discrimination, and migration and as a volunteer with International Alert, he contributed to the development a conflict-sensitive employment framework for the private sector. He also has experience of local government and the retail sector. Matthew has an MA in Human Rights from University College London, and a BA in Politics and Modern History from the University of Manchester.