Rachel Davis

Rachel Davis

Alumni leaders

BA LLB 2003

Rachel is the Vice-President and Co-Founder of Shift – a non-profit organisation and the leading centre of expertise on the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Shift’s mission is to transform how business gets done to ensure respect for people’s lives and dignity, and its team of experts work globally with business, government, investors and civil society stakeholders to put the UN Guiding Principles into practice. Rachel has led work at Shift for the last decade on standard-setting, human rights and sports, financial institutions, conflict and international law.

Rachel has been the Chair of FIFA’s independent Human Rights Advisory Board since it was established in 2017 and has advised the International Olympic Committee on human rights since 2018. Before co-founding Shift, Rachel was a senior legal advisor to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on business and human rights, Harvard Professor John Ruggie (2006-2011). Rachel is a Senior Program Fellow with the Corporate Responsibility Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School and an author of the leading study on the costs of company-community conflict in the extractive sector. Rachel was an associate at the High Court of Australia and the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. She is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of New South Wales.

When I graduated from UNSW Law, I never imagined that I would be putting my degree to use advising on the development of new UN standards and then co-founding a non-profit organisation (and hiring a global team of experts) to drive the implementation of those standards with multinational companies, governments, investors and civil society allies across the world. I feel that my Law School training set me up in the best possible way to think through the range of challenges - normative, political, legal and organisational - that I’ve encountered along my unexpected career path in the emerging field of business and human rights. That training also embedded an awareness in me of a shared responsibility to address severe inequalities, both at home here in Australia and abroad. Voice and privilege are not distributed fairly or evenly in our globalised world; as UNSW Law graduates, we have the ability to try to do something about that.