Challenging Corporate Human Rights Violations

This research project explored the application of human rights law in cases of violations involving corporations. It empirically analysed the core contradictions in human rights law as it applies to corporations, both as instigators of human rights violations and as objects of human rights protections. The project analysed how those contradictions had been dealt with historically by international institutions, and used this historical analysis to understand recent developments in the UN Human Rights Council.

Project summary


The project draws upon an original analysis of data from:

  • in-depth qualitative interviews with judges from the European Court of Human Rights and the Inter American Court of Human Rights; and
  • case decisions in both courts that have developed a jurisprudence of corporate human rights,
  • a comprehensive analysis of cases dealing with alleged human rights violations under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

The extensive data generated by the process provides evidence to inform the development of a new treaty on transnational corporation proposed by UN Human Rights Council. One conclusion is that the UN risks hitting another dead end if it continues to exclusively address the human rights obligations of corporations, rather than also considering the issue of corporate human rights protections.

 

 

Key publications

 

  • Corporate human rights violations: Global prospects for legal action (Routledge, March 2017)

    This book systematically analyses the core contradictions in human rights law as it applies to corporations, both as instigators of human rights violations and as objects of human rights protections. 

  • Sidelining corporate human rights violations: the failure of the OECD's regulatory consensus” (Journal of Human Rights, July 2019) 

    This article presents an original and extensive analysis of cases dealing with alleged human rights violations under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, arguing that the process is little more than symbolic, and that it creates a “fake consensus.”

  • New Mechanisms for Accountability for Corporate Violations of Human Rights” (University of Liverpool, 2015)

    This report explores barriers to creating a new mechanism capable of holding corporations accountable for human rights violations. The report uses data gathered from three focus groups held at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on 27th March 2014 to explore the range of forms that such a mechanism might take and the conditions that would be necessary for it come to fruition.

 

 

Online publications

 

 

 

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