Human Rights Law and Business

Corporate Responsibility for Fundamental Human Rights

By Jernej Letnar Cernic

Over recent decades, globalization has stirred up a number of positive and negative developments in national and international environments. An important feature of globalization is the rise of the economic, social, cultural and political power of corporations. While corporate activities may positively contribute to the livelihoods of individuals, communities, and societies, a number of allegations have been made that corporations have been involved in systematically violating human rights. In contrast, only a limited of number of claims have been successfully brought against corporations or their directors and employees. As there is an urgent need for practical and victim-oriented solutions in the modern world in the area of human rights and business, this study argues that corporations have normative obligations in relation to fundamental human rights, around which there possibly appears to exist a value consensus across different cultures and societies around the world. However, the cacophony of international documents - so far agreed - currently regulate the conduct of corporations in international law only indirectly. This study therefore argues that the normative thrust of corporate human rights obligations derives primarily from national legal orders and only secondarily from the international level, whereas both draw their foundations from an international value system. Moreover, corporate human rights obligations may also derive from corporate unilateral commitments. The study argues that corporations should be held accountable for violations of human rights law. Human Rights Law and Business proposes a normative framework of corporate obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill fundamental human rights. It employs a holistic approach to corporate responsibility, which identifies a three-fold responsibility for rights violations: corporate, individual, and state responsibility. It argues for concurrence between corporate, individual, and state responsibility where possible. Such an approach also maintains a victim-oriented perspective. Equally important to identifying corporate obligations is the question of how one can respond to corporate human rights violations. As international mechanisms are often ineffective and sometimes inexistent, the provision of effective remedies for victims of corporate human rights violations rests within national normative frameworks. The investigation of the current frameworks exposes the stark reality of a need for more clarity with respect to the obligations and responsibilities of corporations. Human Rights Law and Business therefore makes recommendations on how to improve the normative framework for corporate responsibility for fundamental human rights.~

346 pages

Publication Date: 8/19/2010
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9789089520814