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Late Professor Gwynne Skinner’s book published

by Sarah Bello,

Gwynne Skinner

A yearslong labor of love came to fruition in September 2020 with the publishing of late Willamette Law Professor Gwynne Skinner’s final academic contribution, a book, “Transnational Corporations and Human Rights: Overcoming Barriers to Judicial Remedy.” Skinner, an immigration, refugee and human rights law professor, died in December 2017 after a lengthy and courageous battle with cancer. 

When she passed away, her book was not quite finished. Co-authors Rachel Chambers, assistant professor of Business Law at the University of Connecticut and co-director of the Teaching Business and Human Rights Forum, and Sarah McGrath, director of International Engagement for Business and Human Rights at the Australian Human Rights Commission, spent the last two years helping complete it, along with many others who assisted with editing, sharing knowledge and expertise.

McGrath, who had worked with Skinner at the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR), says when Skinner knew her time was short, she and the ICAR executive director at the time, Amol Mehra, immediately went to spend time with her. 

“Gwynne talked about the importance of her work with ICAR and how much the business and human rights community meant to her,” McGrath explains. “It was during this visit that Gwynne gave us the honor of seeing her book through to publication.”

Not long after, they reached out to Chambers, who agreed to work with them on the project. McGrath says without her help, they would not have been able to see the book through. They feel that taking on the project was a small thing they could do to contribute to Skinner’s legacy.

“This book is fundamentally about justice, about what is right and fair,” Chambers says. “It’s about ensuring that when multinational corporations cause human rights harms, those corporations are held to account and the victims have access to justice. The book is a culmination and celebration of Gwynne’s life and work, bringing together years of thinking, research and writing.”

Because the field is moving quickly, with many developments since Skinner’s passing, new items and updates are included in the work, though continuing to reflect Skinner’s voice and recommendations for a path forward, McGrath says. 

“Gwynne had a vision for a better world, one where victims have justice and where corporate actors can no longer act with impunity,” she continues. “Rachel and I hope it provides a useful tool for ongoing and future advocacy, research and litigation – so that we can create a world where the book becomes obsolete, which Gwynne notes in the book is her ultimate wish.”

A passionate advocate, Skinner was a gracious, enthusiastic and accomplished professor, who was both a scholar and a friend. Before joining the faculty at Willamette Law in 2008, she was a civil rights and international human rights attorney in Seattle, earning accolades such as the Seattle Human Rights Advocate of the Year Award in 2008 and being named one of the city’s top civil rights lawyers by Seattle Magazine in 2005.

Learn more about the book.

About Willamette University College of Law

Willamette University College of Law was the first law school to open in the Pacific Northwest. Building on deep historic roots, we focus with pride on educating the next generation of problem-solving lawyers and leaders. Our location in Salem, Oregon, directly across the street from the Oregon State Capitol and Supreme Court, cannot be matched in the region. Our thought-leading scholars advance and promote our shared responsibility to make a difference in society, placing justice, fairness, and equality at the heart of everything we do.

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