Meet Patrick Simon Perillo, Newton Fund grant awardee.

Research topic: Human Rights Violations through Environmental Degradation: Exploring the Responsibility of Non-State Actors in International and Comparative Law 

Host institution / UK university: University of Cambridge

Home institution: Ateneo de Manila University

Degree programme: PhD Land Economy

Describe your PhD research in layman’s terms.

My PhD research seeks to contribute to the development of corporate accountability in international and comparative law for human rights violations and environmental degradation. I am particularly interested in how state-based mechanisms have developed norms and principles that could be part of a blueprint in holding transnational corporations accountable for harm caused by their operations in other states or jurisdictions.

What is the relevance of your study to the economic development, welfare and poverty issues in the Philippines?

Many human rights and environmental issues in a foreign investment or transnational corporate setting happen in the host state or in the country where the subsidiary (operations) is located. Developing states such as the Philippines act as host states in this context and thus become the target of such human rights and environmental concerns. Holding transnational corporations accountable for their abuses will hopefully reduce their negative impacts on society and the environment of the country they invest in, which in turn can contribute to the improvement of social welfare, poverty reduction, and economic growth without sacrificing the other pillars of sustainable development. While most research focuses on preventive measures, it is equally significant to look at curative ones which can (1) provide effective remedies to victims; (2) and mitigate negative impacts of businesses by acting as a deterrent to further human rights violations and environmental degradation. This is what I seek to achieve in my research, which aims to benefit not just the Philippines but developing states in general.

How do you envision your UK education can contribute to your future career as a researcher?

Undertaking my research as a PhD candidate in the UK is a unique experience in itself, more so, being at the Department of Land Economy. The Department prides itself in utilizing various disciplines, especially law, economics, politics, and environmental studies in its research. I am thus immersed in a community that not only values excellent research and training, but puts equal importance to interdisciplinary research. I am also able to hone my research and teaching abilities, as well as my administrative skills, which are key components of a well-rounded academic. I also endeavour to forging good professional relationships with academics and peers at various departments and centers at Cambridge. Armed with the aforementioned experiences, I wish to lead my institution towards greater research excellence and impactful collaborations.

How has the commitment of the UK in science and technology influence your decision in choosing the Newton Fund?

I was very pleased that through the Newton Fund, the UK has expanded its commitment to funding research, not only in science and technology, but also in social science disciplines, to advance (1) the Newton Fund's mandate of promoting sustainable development; and (2) the priority areas identified for the Philippines. I feel privileged to benefit from this design as my research falls within the latter category. Coupled with the fact that the University of Cambridge is one of the most prestigious academic institutions known for its excellence in international law, sustainable development, and interdisciplinary research, it was not difficult for me to decide to pursue my PhD studies through the Newton Fund.