John Ruggie

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John Ruggie
John Ruggie 2012.jpg
Professor John Ruggie
Born John Gerard Ruggie
(1944-10-18) 18 October 1944 (age 69)
Graz, Austria
Alma mater McMaster University and University of California, Berkeley
Occupation Academic Professor

John Gerard Ruggie (born October 18, 1944) is the Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights and International Affairs at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and Affiliated Professor in International Legal Studies at Harvard Law School. He has been Dean of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, where he taught for many years. He has also taught at the University of California's Berkeley and San Diego campuses and directed the UC system-wide Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation. He has twice served as a senior official in the United Nations.

Personal life[edit]

Ruggie was born in Graz, Austria, son of Josef and Margaret Ruggie, and was raised in Toronto, Canada, and moved to the United States in 1967 to attend graduate school. He married Mary Zacharuk in 1965, with whom he has one son.


Ruggie has a BA in politics and history from McMaster University in Canada; a PhD in political science from the University of California, Berkeley; a Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) from McMaster; and a Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) from University of Waterloo.


Scholarly work[edit]

Ruggie is widely considered to be one of his generation's most influential political scientists. For example, he introduced the concepts of international regimes and epistemic communities into the international relations field; adapted from Karl Polanyi the term "embedded liberalism" to explain the post-World War II international economic system among western capitalistic states; and was a major contributor to the emergence of the constructivist approach to international relations theorizing, which takes seriously the roles of norms, ideas, and identities, alongside other factors in determining international outcomes. A survey in Foreign Policy magazine has named him as one of the 25 most influential international relations scholars in the United States and Canada.

United Nations[edit]

From 1997 to 2001, he was Assistant Secretary-General and chief advisor for strategic planning to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. His responsibilities included establishing and overseeing the UN Global Compact, the world's largest corporate citizenship initiative, proposing and gaining UN General Assembly approval of the Millennium Development Goals, managing UN relations with Washington, and broadly contributing to the UN's institutional renewal, for which Annan and the United Nations as a whole were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.

Business and human rights[edit]

From 2005 to 2011 Ruggie served as the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Representative for Business and Human Rights. In that capacity, he produced the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. This soft-law instrument was "endorsed" unanimously by the UN Human Rights Council. Its core provisions on the corporate responsibility to respect human rights were also incorporated into a new human rights chapter in the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, ISO 26000, the new Sustainability Policy of the International Finance Corporation, and the European Union's new Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy. The Guiding Principles have also been recognized by the African Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and the Organization of American States. And they enjoy the support of international businesses, workers organizations, and civil society. As a result, the international community has reached unprecedented convergence on normative standards for the human rights conduct of corporations, and the focus now shifts to implementation. Ruggie has published a book based on this experience, entitled JUST BUSINESS: MULTINATIONAL CORPORATIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS (W.W.NORTON, 2013). Kofi Annan said this about it: "Business and human rights challenges became permanently implanted on the global policy agenda twenty years ago. However, there was no universally accepted framework to address or reduce corporate-related human rights harm. John Ruggie took up the challenge to fill that gap and achieved a great deal in a short space of time. It is all too easy when looking at seemingly intractable problems to believe that nothing can be done or that only governments or political leaders can act. JUST BUSINESS shows us the opposite and underlines how all segments of society must play their part to achieve results that benefit all." Paul Polman, CEO of Unilver, added: "A true master class in making the impossible possible." The book has been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Awards and recognition[edit]

A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Ruggie is a recipient of the International Studies Association's Distinguished Scholar Award and the American Political Science Association's Hubert Humphrey Award for outstanding public service by a political scientist. He is also a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. Foreign Policy magazine has named him as one of the 25 most influential international relations scholars in the United States and Canada. In 2014, he received the Harry LeRoy Jones Award of the Washington Foreign Law Society, honoring “an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the development and application of international law” for developing the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Previous recipients have included, among others, Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, Member of the International Court of Justice Thomas Buergenthal, Secretary of State James Baker, Senator George Mitchell, Ambassador Thomas Pickering, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, and Transparency International founder Peter Eigen ( He was also awarded the Global Environment Award of the International Association for Impact Assessment.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]