A Pioneer For Human Rights and Business

Xiaohui Liang has been working in China to advance human rights - the first two principles of the Global Compact - in business for over a decade, both in teaching and practice. In this time, through his work with the China National Textile and Apparel Council and beyond, Xiaohui has helped more than a dozen sectors in China develop their sustainability initiatives, making this the established model for all sectors in the region and driving business action on the global goals across China.

Xiaohui began working on China’s first industry-based CSR initiative in 2005 - CSC9000T by China National Textile and Apparel Council (CNTAC) – at which point he recognized that legal instruments to effect change related to business and human rights were only part of the solution. Focusing on developing a more holistic and participatory approach, and one which demonstrated business opportunities, Xiaohui positioned the structure and implementation of the textile CSR initiative as a human rights risk-based management system, supported by tailored trainings, supply chain partnerships, and information disclosure.

This has also been the philosophy behind ten years of teaching business and human rights, through which Xiaohui challenges students to explore the future of business leadership through ‘principled pragmatism’ solutions to business-related human rights issues. Over 300 students from have completed his course, and it has developed into one of the most popular courses on the curriculum of Peking University Law School.

In 2008, Xiaohui convinced the leadership of CNTAC to join the UN Global Compact, making CNTAC among the first Chinese industrial associations to become a participant in the initiative. CNTAC is a national federation of textile-related industries, and a non-profit organization formed on a volunteer basis. In 2012, Xiaohui led an effort to adopt the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as a core reference document for the CSR Guide of the Chinese ITC industry, representing the first time that they were used in a document adopted by both Chinese businesses and government.

In subsequent years, Xiaohui successfully initiated and implemented several groundbreaking projects in China targeting all three pillars of the Guiding Principles, including the a study on business and human rights remedies in China (2013), a training for Chinese SOEs and government officials on the Guiding Principles (2014), a human rights due diligence exercise for a Chinese company (2014-2015), and developing due diligence guidance for a Chinese industry (2015, CCCMC). He is currently working with OECD to create China’s first responsible business conduct platform that serves as a center for knowledge, practice and remedy on human rights for the Chinese businesses from all sectors and all operating regions in China and outside China.

In 2009-10, Xiaohui was one of the Chinese experts behind the Guidance on Responsible Business in Conflict-Affected & High-Risk Areas, an important tool initiated by the UN Global Compact. He has also served on various human rights working groups, including the UN Global Compact’s Human Rights and Labour Working Group (since 2011), the Global Agenda Council on Human Rights of the World Economic Forum (since 2012), the Expert Reference Group for the development of the Children's Rights and Business Principles by UN Global Compact & UNICEF (2010-2012), and OECD’s Advisory Group for the draft Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector (2014 to date).

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