human rights & business (and a few other things)

Extraterritorial Obligations of States in Business and Human Rights – A talk at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights


After the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa) and Harvard University, my research leave has now brought me to the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights in Oslo, where I am spending a few days as a visiting researcher.

On Tuesday I gave a presentation on the extraterritorial obligations of states in the area of business and human rights as part of the Centre’s “Human Rights and Development” research group  lunch series. I reviewed the evolving positions of the UN treaty bodies on this question and commented on the latest developments. These are:

1. The concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee on Germany, issued in November 2012, in which the Committee, using the language of UN Guiding Principle 2, stated  that,

The State party is encouraged to set out clearly the expectation that all business enterprises domiciled in its territory and/or its jurisdiction respect human rights standards in accordance with the Covenant throughout their operations. It is also encouraged to take appropriate measures to strengthen the remedies provided to protect people who have been victims of activities of such business enterprises operating abroad. [para. 16]

2. General Comment No 16 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on State obligations regarding the impact of the business sector on children’s rights, which I reviewed in a previous post, and were issued in March 2013.

3. The Human Rights Committee’s recently published list of issues in relation to the upcoming examination of Ireland in 2014, which contains the following paragraph:

Please provide information on how the Government addresses concerns regarding the activities of private businesses based in the State party that may lead to violations of the Covenant outside the territory of the State party.

My colleague Dr Shane Darcy from the Irish Centre for Human Rights wrote an interesting post on this on his blog on Business and Human Rights in Ireland.

This is a fast growing area within the business and human rights field and one with numerous opportunities for developments, which I will try to keep track of on this blog.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Powered by WordPress | Designed by Elegant Themes