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27 Nov 2017

David Birchall, Business and Human Rights Journal

Commentary: Access to remedy should also address impacts of non-violative corporate acts

"Access to Remedy and Corporate Human Rights Impacts", 27 Nov 2017

...Access to remedy is a rapidly improving, though still fundamentally weak, area of business of human rights (BHR) regulation. This post highlights the rights impacts of non-violative corporate acts, an area for which both remedy and regulation is frequently lacking...The [UN] Working Group contrasts access to remedy...and access to justice...The former consists generally of violations constituting overt wrongdoing, the latter refers to structural injustices such as global poverty and famine, for which no single actor is reasonably culpable.

...Between the violation and structural issues lie non-violative corporate acts with repercussive rights impacts. Herein, we can trace a particular harm to a specific corporate act, yet the act itself was not a human rights violation. Particularly common are corporate acts which risk serious regressions under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)...Such issues are generally not considered human rights violations. They are permitted, market-driven decisions, which may only present human rights issues when performed en masse...

...[I]f the [BHR] movement seeks to humanize business in a holistic sense, we may need to go beyond relational violations, and look more closely at the full range of human rights impacts presented by corporations. [refers to Google]