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Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Corporate human rights obligations under economic and social human rights

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
5.05.00  Social sciences  Law   

Code Science Field
S140  Social sciences  Public law 

Code Science Field
5.05  Social Sciences  Law 
Keywords
Corporations, corporate human rights obligations, economic and social human rights, globalization
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (1)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  32577  PhD Jernej Letnar Černič  Law  Head  2013 - 2015  564 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  8554  New University, Faculty of Government and European Studies  Kranj  1555057  4,549 
Abstract
Corporate human rights obligations deriving under economic and social rights This research study will attempt to identify corporate human rights obligations deriving from economic and social rights. The objective of this research study will be to comprehensively demonstrate and analyze the existing scope and nature of corporate human rights obligations deriving from economic and social human rights. The general research question - Do corporations have human rights obligations deriving from economic and social human rights – will underpin this study.   Over the past decades globalisation has stirred a number of positive and negative developments in national and international environments. An important feature of globalisation is the rise of the economic, social and political power of corporations. Corporations account for 45 of the 100 largest economies in the world, and 91 of the 150 largest economies. Corporations can have a positive or negative impact on the human rights of individuals, wider communities and indigenous peoples. Without doubt, a number of positive human rights initiatives have so far been undertaken by several corporations and a number of them contribute to the creation of jobs, the stimulation of economic growth and the raising of living standards.   Economic and social rights include rights to housing, food, education, water and health. Corporations play an important role in the realisation of the economic and social rights of their employees and of society as a whole. For example, they are responsible for guaranteeing adequate labour conditions to their employees, and they may be involved in the provision of water services to communities. They can become violators of economic and social rights, for example where their activities lead to environmental pollution, or where their products are detrimental the health of consumers. It will be argued that corporations bear a certain responsibility for the realisation of economic and social rights, which can be derived from international as well as from national (constitutional) law. It is asserted maintain that this responsibility is different and separate from the responsibility of governments and should never undermine the primary governmental responsibility under these rights. It will be suggested that further obligations of corporations need to be defined along the lines of the distinction between obligations to ‘respect, protect and to fulfil’, which can be seen as an elaboration of the ‘obligation to respect’ as defined by the Special Representative J. Ruggie. This identification can offer governments, civil society organisations, corporations and judicial and quasijudicial bodies a framework for addressing the responsibilities of corporations. As such it is argued that corporations have both obligations to refrain from doing harm as well as ‘positive’ obligations to take measures to for example actively protect the environment or to provide certain services where governments are falling short. The author is aware that such positive obligations are difficult to define and that the question as to whether a positive obligation exists will depend on the setting in which the corporation operates.  But altogether, it will be argued that based on economic and social rights ‘doing no harm’ goes further than merely avoiding workplace accidents and environmental damage. This is because corporations have simply become too powerful actors for them to refrain from taking on a larger responsibility.   The project if fully realizable in the period of two years; it will be carried out as a candidate’s individual research work, which he will connect to his pedagogical activities and international scientific activity. The results of the project will be a published monograph, several scientific papers and presentations of project development and results in international conferences.
Significance for science
Victims of human rights violations by or involving corporations have little or no access to justice either in their home country or in the country where the corporation in question is registered or, indeed, in their international legal order. Corporations employ millions of people worldwide and this affects the daily lives of an even larger number of people. Determining the corporate obligations under economic and social rights has considerable practical utility for corporations, governments and civil society alike. Corporate obligations under economic and social rights may level the playing field by limiting the competitive advantage of corporations that decline to undertake positive action. Such obligations would also create more certainty and stability for corporations doing business around the globe, clarifying the expectations for corporation in their operations. Also, effective national and international frameworks for corporate obligations can assist communities to effectively develop and control their own natural resources for use in a global economic context. The present research project has been instrumental in clarifying the obligations of corporations relating to economic and social rights, as it examined for the first time together corporate obligations and the protection of economic and social rights. The heart of academic commentary has concentrated only on a discussion of the international human rights obligations of corporations and no connection has been made between corporate obligations and economic and social human rights. On the other hand, the majority of the literature on economic and social rights focuses on state obligations, whereas corporate obligations are hardly covered. This research project filled these gaps. lt therefore argues that corporate obligations and field of economic and social rights are interconnected, interdependent and complementary. It therefore seems especially important to establish the scope and nature of the corporate human rights obligations under economic and social rights. The research project explained our understanding of the corporate obligations in relation to economic and social rights. It did so by adopting the neglected, integrated approach to corporate obligations under economic and social rights, which interconnects the field of human rights and business with the field of economic and social rights. We published within the project fifteen peer-reviewed chapters and articles. A few contributions are still waiting to be published. The expected results were presented at national and international conferences in the field of business and human rights. At the same time the results were presented to the nongovernmental organisations. In the civil society context, the results were presented to the stakeholders who work in the field of business and human rights and corporate social responsibility, as well as organizations representing the interests of victims of alleged violations of economic and social rights.
Significance for the country
This research project contributed to greater awareness of the obligations of corporations to observe the economic and social human rights in Slovenia. Corporations need to realize their own responsibilities in these areas and help the wider society and public authorities in implementing corporate social responsibility. Socially responsible corporations operate contribute to the effective functioning of market economy, based on the respect and promotion of human rights. Strict compliance with the obligations of corporations in the field of economic and social rights does not prevent their appearance in a competitive market, but in many ways improves their market position. Corporations that are socially responsible actions in the field of economic and social human rights contribute to the sustainable development of communities and society as a whole. The expected results were presented at national and international conferences in the field of economic and social human rights. At the same time the results were presented to the nongovernmental organisations. In the context of the project, we gave lectures on corporate obligations in the field of economic and social human rights within the courses on "Human rights law", "Constitutional and international human rights law" and within other courses at the Graduate School for Government and European Studies and the European School of Law from 2013 to 2015. Publications of scientific chapters, articles and monographs in Slovenian and English language contributed to more informed profession and the public about the commitment of companies to observe the economic and social human rights. In the civil context, the project had significant value for stakeholders working in the field of business and human rights and corporate social responsibility, as well as for nongovernmental organizations representing the interests of victims of alleged violations of economic and social rights.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2013, 2014, final report, complete report on dLib.si
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2013, 2014, final report, complete report on dLib.si
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