Michael H. Posner

Director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights

Michael H. Posner is a professor of business and society at NYU’s Stern School of Business, where he is working to launch the first-ever center on business and human rights at a business school. Prior to joining NYU Stern, Posner served in the Obama administration as assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the State Department from 2009 to 2013. Prior to his appointment, he led Human Rights First, a New York-based human rights advocacy organization. Posner is recognized as a leader and expert in advancing a rights-based approach to national security, challenging the practice of torture, combating discrimination, and refugee protection.

Throughout his career, Posner has been a prominent voice in support of human rights protections in global business operations in the manufacturing supply chain, the extractives industry, and the information and communications technology sector. As a member of the White House Apparel Industry Partnership Task Force in the mid-1990s, Posner helped found the Fair Labor Association, which brings together corporations, local leaders, universities, and non-governmental organizations to promote corporate accountability for working conditions in the apparel industry. He was a founding member of the Global Network Initiative, a multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at promoting free expression and privacy rights on the internet, and has spoken widely on the issue of internet freedom.

Posner spearheaded the U.S. government’s efforts to enhance the effectiveness of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, which works to improve human rights around oil, gas, and mining operations. Posner also played a key role in developing the first U.S. law providing for political asylum, which became part of the Refugee Act of 1980, as well as the Torture Victim Protection Act, adopted in 1992. In 1998, he led the Human Rights First delegation to the Rome conference at which the statute of the International Criminal Court was adopted. Before joining Human Rights First, Posner was a lawyer with Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal in Chicago. A member of the California and Illinois bars, he received a B.A. with distinction and honors in history from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley Law School.

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