Emmanuel Freudenthal is not afraid to make the tough calls when investigating potential conflicts between business interests and human rights in Africa.
Freudenthal had his sights set on a career in advertising when he enrolled in a dual degree in Marketing and Economics at UTS, but it was in the study of development economics where he found his true calling. He won a coveted place in the University of Oxford’s Master of Philosophy in Development Studies program, researching the displacement of Cameroon’s local populations as a result of conservation projects.
Since then, he has uncovered human rights abuses and worked with marginalised communities in Africa and parts of Asia. He worked with the Forest Peoples Program to prevent communities being railroaded by big business into giving up their rights to the forest; in one memorable case, he partnered with local activists in South Cameroon to prevent the displacement of indigenous people at the hands of a palm oil company, leaving the forest and local livelihoods intact.
"Developers had divided villages with promises of jobs and wealth; we were able to unite them by showing community leaders the devastating impacts and empty promises of a nearby palm oil plantation"
“Developers had divided villages with promises of jobs and wealth; we were able to unite them by showing community leaders the devastating impacts and empty promises of a nearby palm oil plantation,” he recalls.
Freudenthal was based in Cameroon as the European Union’s Program Manager for Justice and Human Rights, before undertaking freelance research for leading non-government organisations into the harassment and murder of land activists, financing of deadly conflicts by gold mining, and community displacement in the name of development.
Over the past year, Freudenthal has been building a name as an intrepid investigative freelance journalist covering business, human rights and corruption in Africa. He is currently focused on the ethics of international investors – including Australian companies.
“A number of Australian mining companies operating in Africa have a very dark history of corruption and human rights violations – yet no one has been jailed. I’m curious by nature, and this is the kind of thing I want to look into.”
Business School Alumni
Are you a graduate from the UTS Business School?
Click here to keep in contact with the UTS: Business alumni community.