Artem Filipyev Talks about Human Rights and Responsible Business

“I always reminisce on working in a law clinic with extraordinary warmth. It was an incredible combination of something interesting and useful”. – Artem Filipiev, the General Counsel of PJSC “ArcelorMittal Kryviy Rih”.

The Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine continues to cover success stories of legal clinics graduates.

The next story for the Association was told by the General Counsel of PJSC “ArcelorMittal Kryviy Rih”, former Director of Legal Affairs of PJSC “Consumers-Sklo-Zorya” and graduate of the legal clinic “Pro bono” of the National University of Ostroh Academy Artem Filipiev.

In February 2020, the presentation of the results of the National Legal Essay Competition “Responsible Business and Human Rights” took place. Artem Filipiev and the contestants discussed the features and values ​​in the work of a corporate lawyer.

So, it will be interesting not only to know more about the importance of legal clinical engagement, but also to see the personal experience of business law practice and the uniqueness of UP International Student Internship.

– Artem, can you tell about your personal experience of business law practice? Why have you chosen specifically this sphere?

Most of my professional experience is directly related to business services. I have also worked as an outside consultant, as an in-house lawyer during my years of practice.

I started to work at a law firm as a consultant. However, I decided to become a part of a business team. Since I didn’t want to be just an outside advisor who appears solely to participate in a particular project or to resolve a problematic situation. I am inspired by the fact that I can work not solely in a business service but also a to be a decision-maker. It is important to see how these solutions are subsequently transported into a useful society product.

– Why did you participate in the discussion of “responsible business” together with the participants of the National Student Essay Competition among legal clinics?  What exactly connects you to legal clinics?

I can claim that I started my law career at the legal clinic. In 2003 I became a consultant at the National University of Ostroh Academy “Pro bono” legal clinic.

Later, I worked as an administrator and project manager for the “Pravnychi Initsiatyvy” Charity Foundation. I always reminisce on working in a law clinic with extraordinary warmth. It was an incredible combination of something interesting and useful.

Besides, it was useful not only for me as a professional and an individual but also for society. I learned a lot. For example, conducting Street Law lessons allowed me developing public speaking skills. Communicating with people who approached us with their problems (which did not always have a legal solution) formed the skill of objectively analyzing the situation.

– The topics of the National Competition is rather unusual (“Responsible Business and Human Rights”). Which business do you think is responsible? What distinguishes a responsible business from “irresponsible”?

The purpose of any business is to make profit. However, this goal is achieved by creating a product that is directly or indirectly consumed by people. First of all, for me, “responsible business” is a business that creates a product. However, the consumption of this product does not destroy but builds a person, makes one’s life better. This is not all. In my opinion, “responsible business” is aware that the process of creating the product itself must have a positive impact on society. But not only from the perspective of today but also in the future. In practice, this is embodied in following certain business ethical. Adherence to these principles isn’t an action driven by fear of punishment or condemnation, but – rather a conscious choice.

– How does business affect human rights? What kind of rights are we talking about?

I think that business influences almost all human rights. If we use the well-known division of human rights into generations – the impact of business is felt in each of them.

For example, the enforcement of the right to life is not possible without safe and proper working conditions. The responsibility for this right is primarily the responsibility of the business. After all, it is possible to talk about observing this right if a person does not feel confident (within eight working hours) that he or she will return to their loved ones safe and sound?

Also, business is largely responsible for maintaining the right to a safe environment. Although specific rules for its implementation are created by the state – without their acceptance and implementation from the part of business, the environment will never improve. And there are many more of examples alike.

– On your opinion, who should be aware of human rights – specialized lawyers only or all of them, regardless of field of law they practice?

Undoubtedly – not only specialized! Human rights are about each of us. Therefore, we must not only know them but also implement them. And you know, business today is paying a lot of attention to human rights. For example, at the international company ArcelorMittal, every employee undergoes compulsory human rights training. It is impossible to do business in a world that sees human rights as the cornerstone of civilization – and not to know human rights.

– How relevant is this topic for Ukraine? Is the situation in our country too different from other countries in Eastern and Western Europe?

Of course, the topic of social responsibility in business is relevant to Ukraine. I am convinced that it is equally relevant anywhere else in the world. It includes the countries of Eastern and Western Europe. The conditions for doing business are different – hence the public’s demand for what should the responsibility be. The basic meaning remains the same: the business should review itself as part of society, not perceive society as a resource. However, the attitude of society to the business should be similar. People need to realize that it is business (not even the state) that creates jobs, pays taxes that enable the state to fulfill its social obligations. And it lays the foundation for the general prosperity of the people. Sometimes it seems to me that in Ukraine understanding this sometimes still remains a problem, since business is viewed through the prism of class struggle and dispossession (these phenomena at least have some ideological basis) and – at worst, perceive it as a cynical desire to take possession of another.

– In general, what are your impressions of the Competition? What impressed you most?

The competition is extremely interesting. I want to thank the people who joined the organization. The most memorable thing for me was the communication with the students during the visit to ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih. – the largest mining and metallurgical enterprise in Ukraine. Open dialogue with young people is always inspiring and generates new ideas.

– What is your current job at ArcelorMittal you work at? What are its current projects and plans?

ArcelorMittal is the number one manufacturer of steel in the world and the largest foreign investor in Ukraine. For the last one and a half years, I have been working as the Chief Legal Advisor of ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih. This enterprise is currently implementing a large-scale investment program and is actively updating since it was built over 80 years ago. We are constructing new production units. Also, we are reconstructing existing ones and implementing environmental projects to reduce the industrial burden on the environment. We almost completed an important investment project. We carry out hot examinations of two newly built machines of continuous billets casting. Also, the reconstruction of the second sinter plant with the installation of modern electrostatic precipitators is not stopped. We are planning the construction of a new factory of pelletizing this year. Over 14 years of work in Ukraine, ArcelorMittal’s total investment has already reached $ 9.7 billion.

– Finally, give your three tips to the clinical students.

Firstly, don’t be afraid to dream. But let these dreams be not only about yourself. It is important to think about what you can do for others. Secondly, never lose the opportunity to fulfill your dream. Search for options! And always be ready for the chance to run an extra mile. And lastly, you have to look at the possibilities more broadly, not content with well-trodden and wide roads. You need to be prepared to find your path and not only to take advantage but to create as well.

This publication was made possible through support provided by the United States Agency for International Development under a grant by the USAID Financial Transformation Sector Project.

Artem Filipyev Talks about Human Rights and Responsible Business