Towards a new legal consensus on business and human rights: A 10th anniversary essay

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Abstract

The article takes stock of developments in domestic and international law concerning the regulation of adverse human rights impacts by global business enterprises, one decade after the adoption of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations of States in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. It discusses these soft-law instruments in the light of long-standing systemic obstacles to holding business enterprises legally accountable for their global human rights impacts. The article argues for a new legal consensus on business and human rights, grounded in the increasing recognition by States that corporate respect for human rights should be brought under the purview of (international) human rights law. This consensus builds on the gradual convergence between the regulatory models that underpin the UNGPs and the Maastricht Principles, such that States’ domestic regulation of business enterprises with extraterritorial effect becomes anchored in international legal obligations towards foreign victims of business-related human rights violations. It is corroborated by the increasing use of home-state regulation to impose human rights due diligence requirements on business enterprises that reach out into the global value chain; and the extension of States’ international human rights obligations beyond a territorially circumscribed relationship between public authorities and victims of corporate human rights abuse.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNetherlands Quarterly of Human Rights
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Business & human rights; CSR; home-state regulation; extraterritorial obligations; UNGPs; Maastricht Principles; business and human rights treaty

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