From apparel factories making our clothes, to mining companies extracting core inputs into our phones, to IT firms gathering information on all of us, to sport associations organizing the World Cup and Olympics, corporate conduct is now a major focus of the modern international human rights regime. This seminar will examine the evolution of human rights law's concern for business activities and the resulting, still fluid, regulatory architecture. This regulatory regime includes the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, domestic laws governing extraterritorial conduct of companies, transnational tort suits against multinational corporations, industry-wide codes of conduct, treaties to combat corrupt practices that affect human rights, and the insertion of human rights into international arbitration.
The class will consider major themes at the center of attention regarding human rights, including the respective roles and duties of the state vs. companies in protecting human rights; the need for soft vs. hard law; the best form of remedy for victims of violations; the winners and losers from different regulatory regimes; and the role of corporations as both "makers" and "takers" of international human rights law.
Students will write a seminar paper on a cutting-edge topic of their choice. A prior course in international law is required.