As part of our Global Citizenship and Development Education module, we were tasked with carrying out a group project, Ours, UCC UV Trocaire, would see us coming together with students from Universidad Veracruzana in Mexico and spokespeople from Trócaire to spread the word about the impact of Big Business on Human Rights. We had the opportunity to attend an introductory lecture, where Jeannie McCann and Garry Walsh [?] contextualised the project for us. Through this, and the short film we watched in preparation for the lecture (Never Waste a Crisis), we familiarised ourselves with the task at hand. To tackle corporate exploitation of indigenous communities, such as that of Berta Caceres, a UN binding treaty would need to be made. I think that, back in that first lecture, we were a little apprehensive: how would we do our part to tackle such a mammoth and complex issue? Luckily, Jeannie McCann was more than willing to give us some much-needed direction. Jeannie met with us over Zoom in the first of what would become weekly meetings with the UV students, who we had also been introduced to in the initial lecture. Together, we set out a list of goals for the project. Jeannie explained the importance of the upcoming vote on corporate human rights due diligence in the EU parliament next week. She offered to send Mary an email template that we could each customize and send to our MEPs in advance of the vote. As well as this, Jeannie suggested that the main aspect of our project could be an online webinar in which students from both UCC and UV discuss the impact of Big Business on Human Rights.
Although a few things got lost in translation at the beginning (thank you to Lucia for translating during the meetings!), we built up a great rapport with the UV students. Throughout our weekly meetings and through our WhatsApp group chat, we worked towards creating an event that aimed to spread awareness of the need for a UN binding treaty on business and human rights. Speakers from both universities, Catherine, Lucia, Mark and Anne from UCC and Daria, Eduardo, Fernanda, Diego and Monserrat from UV undertook thorough research to create compelling and informative presentations. On the evening of Tuesday 13 April, we held our webinar: “What Business Is This of Yours? A Glimpse into the Impact of Big Business in Ireland and Mexico.” After a few inevitable technical difficulties (it wouldn’t be a virtual event without them!) Mary kicked us off with an introduction to the night’s events. Joanne McGarry from Trócaire then brought us through the reasons behind Trócaire’s campaign to implement a binding treaty on Human Rights, providing some valuable expertise on the subject. We then heard from Mark, Lucia, Catherine and Anne on the impact of Big Business on Human Rights in Ireland. The speakers’ presentations illuminated the concerns around systems such as Direct Provision and the subsequent need for a UN binding treaty on business and human rights. Then, the students from Daria, Eduardo, Fernanda, Diego and Monserrat presented on the impact of Big Business in Mexico. In particular, these presentations focused on the exploitation surrounding mining in Mexico. Both the Irish and Mexican presentations included translations for them to be accessible to audiences from both countries. The opportunity to hear student from Mexico in conversation about some of their country’s most pertinent political and social issues was both unique and worthwhile. The event as a whole was a huge success and everyone, from the speakers to those working behind the scenes, should be proud of their efforts in pulling off a wonderful event during challenging times. I hope that, in the spirit of this project, we can maintain contact with our Mexican friends and one other, because it has been a pleasure!