Since 1990 there has been both a large reduction in the numbers of personnel serving in the British military and a significant increase in the outsourcing of government services. In the early 2000s these phenomena intersected when the UK was at war in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Faced with an increased threat to its diplomatic missions in frontier locations and a lack of military resources to support them, the government turned to the private security market for help to guard its embassies. However, it did so without implementing any meaningful oversight mechanisms for its contractors. The result was widespread labour exploitation amongst the Nepalese and Indian citizens hired to protect British Embassies from attack.
In this talk, James Sinclair (FSI Worldwide) describes the legal, political, economic, cultural and policy paradigm that has developed in the outsourcing of diplomatic security services over the last 20 years. He explores the market regulation failure that left so many ‘third country nationals’ exposed to exploitation at the hands of British private security companies and asks whether enough has been done to ensure that it cannot happen again. James will be joined by Elise Groulx Diggs (Doughty Street Chambers); Mustafa Qadri (Equidem); Lucas Roorda (Utrecht University).
James Sinclair is a lawyer and social entrepreneur based in London. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from York University, postgraduate legal qualifications from the University of Law, a Master’s Degree in International Relations from King’s College London and a PhD in International Human Rights Law and Political Economy from King’s College London. James qualified as a Barrister in 2001 and developed an international litigation practice. In 2006, he co-founded FSI Worldwide, a UN award winning fair labour organisation. FSI now operates in 10 countries and has offered protected employment to thousands of migrant and other vulnerable workers from South Asia and East Africa. While helping to develop FSI between 2007 and 2014 James lived, worked and travelled extensively across the Middle East, Asia and Africa. In 2019 he was awarded a grant by DFID to create the Fair Labour Alliance, a social innovation hub that develops and implements practical innovations to protect vulnerable workers in supply chains. James is currently leading the development of the FSI Consulting practice, which offers best practice fair labour consulting and ESG advice to global companies.
Elise Groulx-Diggs Esq. Ad. E is one of a few lawyers who have specialized for more than a decade in the rapidly developing field of business and human rights. She provides advice to multinational businesses and other economic actors on how to understand and respect international human rights norms. Her clients have also included international and domestic governmental agencies, nongovernmental organisations, and labour unions. Elise has established and been convening the ABA Center for Human Rights Business and Human Rights Advisory Board project for 8 years (since 2013) and is also the Chair of the IBA Committee on BHR. As an international lawyer and mediator, she is often called upon to act as a convener for groups and individuals in the field of business and human rights. Elise has recently been featured among the elite of global market leaders in the latest ranking at Chambers and Partners (2021). Regarded as "an innovator" and "a top expert in the field" by sources, Elise attracts praise for her "unflagging commitment to business and human rights”.
Mustafa Qadri is the Founder and Executive Director of Equidem, managing all our projects and partner relationships. He is a human rights research and advocacy expert with 20 years of interdisciplinary experience in government and public international law, journalism, and the non-governmental sector. He is the author of several landmark human rights reports into the construction industry, civil and political rights issues, and media freedom, including most recently The ugly side of the beautiful game – the first independent human rights investigation to uncover labour abuse on Qatar 2022 World Cup construction sites. Mustafa has carried out human rights investigations, advocacy and training on several countries including Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Qatar, UAE, UK, and USA. Mustafa is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Human Rights and Business, a member of the Advisory Board to Forensic Architecture, and a member of the Board of Directors to CORE Coalition.
Lucas Roorda is assistant professor at the section International and European Law at Utrecht University, and a postdoc at the Utrecht Centre for Accountability and Liability Law (UCALL). He obtained his PhD in 2019, on jurisdiction in transnational civil cases concerning corporate human rights abuses. He has worked and published on the interaction between public international law, private international law and human rights law when faced with adverse human rights impacts by non-state actors. He has previously worked as a policy advisor for the Netherlands Human Rights Institute (College voor de Rechten van de Mens), in issues including privacy, the right to housing and access to court. He is currently engaged in research on how human rights can be better integrated in liability regimes governing private conduct, especially conduct by transnational corporations.