Katrina Dickins: Off to the World's Diplomatic Capital

Hey everyone! I’m Katrina, and in about 2 hours, I’ll be heading to the airport for a 17 and a half hour flight to Doha, a quick stopover, and then another 8 hour flight to get to Geneva for the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights. Not going to lie, it’s a little daunting, knowing it’ll be my first time in Europe, but when you’re in the world’s diplomatic capital, it’ll be an incredible experience regardless of the small hiccups we might experience.

Our training weekend last week was totally different to what I expected, but still very interesting. We heard from some incredibly knowledgeable speakers on perspectives I’ve never heard from before and it’s made me even more excited to go. A little nervous, since I feel a little out of my depth experience-wise, but still excited!

One highlight of the weekend (apart from all the free food and meeting my two other talented delegates) was going through the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which is what the forum itself is based on. First impressions on hearing and reading this is that it’s a little concerning we’ve never heard about them before, since they’re most effective when everyone knows about them and follows them. These principles could provide some sort of framework for businesses to launch off, but the problem is, they’re also quite vague and broad. This is so they can be applied in any society, but they also make it easy for businesses to do the bare minimum and limit progress in these areas. It’ll be interesting to hear in the forum through the case studies how businesses are helping to make progress and going above what the principles outline.

One other aspect of the forum I’m looking forward to is how indigenous rights are being protected when it comes to the ways their ideas clash with a western perspective on human rights, as this issue is becoming more and more prominent in NZ society as well. As someone of sole European descent and spent my entire life living in NZ, it’s easy to forget that some of the human rights I believe in don’t necessarily translate to what other cultures and societies believe in. I’d love to know how businesses can overcome this issue and create healthy, inclusive environments and develop sustainably. This topic has been briefly touched on in my first year lectures this year and has sparked my passion for this area, so I can’t wait to learn more and make some awesome connections from all over the world.

Well, that’s all from me for now. Can’t wait to get to know the other two delegates while exploring the other side of the world!

All posts by Institute delegates reflect their own thoughts, opinions and experiences.