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Business and human rights: from soft law to hard law?

Ramona Elisabeta Cirlig ()
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Ramona Elisabeta Cirlig: Lawyer in Bucharest Bar Association

Juridical Tribune (Tribuna Juridica), 2016, vol. 6, issue 2, 228-246

Abstract: Over the last decades the international community turned its attention towards the impact that businesses have on human rights, and the role they can play in furt hering human rights protection, in light of the lead role they play in globalization, and the increasingly vocal allegations of human rights violations directed against some multinationals. These developments triggered some action at the United Nations, and at the European Union level, and led to the development of international soft law in this area, moving slowly towards binding instruments. This paper explores the evolution of business and human rights, presents the current international non-binding instruments, as well as some states’ binding initiatives in this area, and highlights the tendency to move from soft law to hard law, to leave the realm of voluntary corporate responsibility for the one of pure accountability. In this context, several solutions are debated by scholars: from a binding treaty, or a series of narrower treaties focused on specific areas, to a Model Law which could be used by states to enact laws imposing obligations on businesses within their jurisdictions, or even adding human rights in the international investment agreements and making use of the international arbitration as an enforcement mechanism.

Keywords: business and human rights; OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises; UN Global Compact; UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; UK Modern Slavery Act 2015. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: K10 K22 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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