WEBINAR: Transitional Justice and Corporate Accountability from Below - Deploying Archimedes' Lever

Event date
28 October 2020
Event time
17:00 - 18:30
Oxford week
LIVE ONLINE SEMINAR - Please register below
Leigh Payne; Gabriel Pereira; Laura Bernal-Bermúdez, University of Oxford; National University of Tucumán; Pontificia Universidad Javeriana

Notes & Changes

Register here. Please note that due to the unprecedented circumstances, OTJR's seminar series will take place online until further notice.

This event will see the launch of the book "Transitional Justice & Corporate Accountability from Below: Deploying Archimedes' Lever" written by Leigh Payne, Gabriel Pereira and Laura Bernal-Bermúdez.

An image of the cover page of the book, mentioning its name and the names of the authors. It contains an image of the raised fist, with a white cloth stating 'juicio y castigo' tied around the wrist.

Bruno Tesch was tried and executed for his company's Zyklon B gas used in Nazi Germany's extermination camps. This book examines this trial and the more than 300 other economic actors who faced prosecution for the Holocaust's crimes against humanity. It further tracks and analyses similar transitional justice mechanisms for holding economic actors accountable for human rights violations in dictatorships and armed conflict: international, foreign, and domestic trials and truth commissions from the 1970s to the present in every region of the world. This book probes what these accountability efforts are, why they take place, and when, where, and how they unfold. Analysis of the authors' original database leads them to conclude that 'corporate accountability from below' is underway, particularly in Latin America. A kind of Archimedes' lever places the right tools in weak local actors' hands to lift weighty international human rights claims, overcoming the near absence of international pressure and the powerful veto power of business.


Leigh A Payne (PhD Yale University) is Professor of Sociology and Latin America at the University of Oxford (St. Antony’s College). She has supported her work on human rights, transitions from authoritarian rule and armed conflict, the armed right-wing, and business with grants from the National Science Foundation, Economic and Social Research Council, the Arts & Humanities Research Council, British Academy.

Gabriel Pereira (DPhil University of Oxford) is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences of the National University of Tucumán and researcher at the National Scientific and Technical Research Council, Argentina. He is also an affiliated researcher at the Latin American Centre at the University of Oxford. He works primarily in the area of human rights, judicial politics, and legal mobilisation.

Laura Bernal-Bermúdez (DPhil University of Oxford) is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law of Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia. She is also an affiliated researcher at the Latin American Centre of the University of Oxford. She works primarily in the area of business and human rights in Colombia's peace process.


Annelen Micus (PhD Law, Bucerius Law School, Hamburg) is head of Programmes of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, University of Oxford. Previously, she worked for two years with a Colombian human rights organisation, the Lawyers’ Collective “José Alvear Restrepo” (CAJAR), as international advisor on transitional justice as well as business and human rights issues. Before going to Colombia, she was a Legal Advisor at the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), focusing on strategic litigation projects aiming for accountability for international crimes committed in Latin America by state and non-state actors.


Pablo de Greiff (PhD Philosophy, Northwestern University) is Senior Fellow and Director of the Transitional Justice Program at the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice of the School of Law at New York University. From 2012-2018 he served as the first Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation, and guarantees of non-recurrence. He also previously served as the Director of Research at the International Center for Transitional Justice from 2001 to 2014. He has been an advisor to various countries around the world in developing transitional justice processes. He has published extensively on transitional justice issues.

Tricia Olsen (PhD Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison) is associate dean of undergraduate programs and associate professor in the Department of Business Ethics and Legal Studies. She is also the Marcus Faculty Fellow. In addition to publishing widely in business ethics, management and political science outlets, she has consulted for the United Nations Business & Human Rights Working Group and the World Bank, among other organizations. Olsen’s work has been funded by USAID, NSF, the British Academy and the Carnegie Corporation. She is the co-director of the Daniels-Korbel Global Business and Corporate Social Responsibility Certificate. She has published extensively on Transitional Justice.

Elizabeth Umlas (PhD Political Science, Yale University) is a senior fellow at Croatan Institute and an independent researcher and consultant with over 15 years of experience in the field of business and human rights. She is currently senior advisor on capital stewardship to a global union federation in Switzerland. In her work with global unions, she has spearheaded investor engagement as a key leverage point in changing corporate behavior in relation to workers’ fundamental rights. She teaches business and human rights at the University of Oxford, the University of Fribourg and the University of Geneva. From 2001 to 2007, she was senior research analyst for human rights at KLD Research & Analytics, a leading socially responsible investment (SRI) research firm in Boston. Her work there involved overseeing KLD’s human rights research. Prior to KLD, she was manager of policy research at Oxfam America and before that, a program officer and consultant for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Her current research examines the “B Corporation” (benefit corporation) and business and human rights movements, the scope for collaboration between the two and the implications for holding corporations accountable for their impacts on human rights. Umlas is a co-founder of Sustainable Finance Geneva, a member of the Amnesty Business Group of Switzerland and a board member of the NGO Media Matters for Women.

Marlon Weichert has been a federal prosecutor in Brazil for 25 years. He acted as Deputy Federal Prosecutor for the Rights of the Citizen from 2016 to 2020. He has extensive experience on transitional justice, public security, business and human rights, and mass atrocities prevention issues. He was the first scholar and prosecutor to argue that crimes against humanity were committed in Brazil during the military dictatorship. He holds a MA degree in Law and was a researcher at the New York University School of Law – Hauser Global Fellows Program. He has written more than 40 publications on human rights. He was involved in the recently settled case against Volkswagen's role during the authoritarian regime in Brazil (1964-1985).


  • Host: Oxford Transitional Justice Research (OTJR)
  • Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, University of Oxford
  • Latin American Centre, University of Oxford
  • Human Rights Program, University of Minnesota
  • Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies, University of Minnesota

This event

Oxford Transitional Justice Research (OTJR) Seminar Series
Organised by
Bonavero Institute of Human Rights & Oxford Transitional Justice Research & Latin American Centre

Found within

Human Rights Law