Human rights are traditionally thought of as a set of norms and practices to protect individuals from threats by the state as a result of a state's duty to secure the conditions necessary for people to live a life of dignity. Gradually, obligations under this regime were extended to individual persons, including heads of state, seeking to hold them to account for conduct that
rises to the level of international crimes. The1990s marked an effort to expand these norms to business enterprises, particularly multinational corporations.
In 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed
the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). Key elements of the UNGPs have also been adopted by numerous other international and national standard setting bodies, individual companies and business associations, workers organizations and civil society actors.
This course will look at the governance gap prior to the UNGPs and their emerging doctrine, along with the three pillars they present, the state duty to protect, the business responsibility to respect, and access to remedy. In addition, participants will simulate an experience in developing a human rights impact assessment and advocacy strategy for holding corporations accountable.
Students will be evaluated on two projects throughout the semester and a final paper along with class participation.