Business has helped lift people around the world out of poverty. On the other hand, businesses operations can and frequently have serious impact on human rights and the environment. With the proliferation of multinational corporations and phenomenal increase in the scale and volume of foreign direct investment, the human rights and environmental impact of business activities around the world is growing. With a focus on recent events, decided cases and developments in international law, we will explore the business-human rights nexus with a focus on the extractive industry and the food and agricultural sector. The study group will examine linkages between business and human rights from a variety (legal, regulatory, and policy) of perspectives and explore old and emerging corporate accountability frameworks. We will we look at some recent lawsuits in which businesses have been accused of human rights violation and/or environmental degradation. We will also look at efforts to address environmental, social and governance issues (ESG) through bilateral investment treaties and through "soft law" instruments such as the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). Finally, we will debate alternative approaches to holding businesses accountable for human rights violations and environmental pollution in their supply chains including efforts, at the global level, to adopt a binding treaty on multinational corporations. We will discuss: What, if any, are the human rights obligations of businesses under international law? How are States addressing the business and human rights nexus? How are companies responding to the growing expectation from investors and consumers? How useful and effective are the contemporary and emerging frameworks? What is working and what is not?
For suggested readings, see: https://www.hks.harvard.edu/centers/mrcbg/students/sg/ofodile.2022.spring
**Open to those with a Harvard.edu email address.**
Speakers and Presenters
Professor Uche Ewelukwa Ofodile, SJD, M-RCBG Senior Fellow