Business & Human Rights Journal (Volume 2, Issue 2)

The Business and Human Rights Journal (BHRJ) provides an authoritative platform for scholarly debate on all issues concerning the intersection of business and human rights in an open, critical and interdisciplinary manner. It seeks to advance the academic discussion on business and human rights as well as promote concern for human rights in business practice. Its scope encompasses interface of any type of business enterprise with human rights, environmental rights, labour rights and the collective rights of vulnerable groups. The Journal contains peer-reviewed articles alongside shorter ‘Developments in the Field’ items, which include policy, legal and regulatory developments, as well as case studies and insight pieces.


Surya Deva, City University of Hong Kong 
Anita Ramasastry, University of Washington School of Law 
Michael Santoro, Santa Clara University
Florian Wettstein, University of St Gallen

Volume 2, Issue 2, July 2017

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4 September 2017

Commentary: Singapore's law to hold companies liable for transboundary environmental & health impacts of haze pollution

Author: Mahdev Mohan, Singapore Management University, on Business and Human Rights Journal

"A Domestic Solution for Transboundary Harm: Singapore's Haze Pollution Law", 23 May 2017

Toxic "haze" from fires, often burning over dry peatland in Indonesia, has affected millions...

Singapore's Ministry of Environment...ha[s] attributed the conduct "of errant companies...", and note that "their emphasis on profit at the expense of the environment and society has led to serious and harmful consequences affecting millions of people". 

Singapore's extraterritorial Transboundary Haze Pollution Act [THPA]...imposes both civil and criminal liability on errant companies domiciled or operating overseas but which cause or contribute to haze pollution in Singapore.

...Section 9...extends the..."precautionary principle"to corporations as well, obligating take certain precautionary and remedial measures....[T]he THPA...endorses...the Guiding Principles, particularly Principle 2, which provides that "States should set out clearly the expectation that all business enterprises domiciled in their territory...respect human rights throughout their operations."

...Scholars acknowledge environmental pollution as one of the most significant risks to the right to health protection...

...Notwithstanding its limitations, the THPA provides a basis for an unprecedented domestic response to transboundary haze pollution reminiscent of the UN Framework and Guiding Principles. It is important to note that the greatest value of the THPA lies in the fact that it has prompted a degree of compliance on the part of companies that have responded to the preventive notices. Indonesia too has taken further strides with enforcement...

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1 September 2017

Commentary: Overview of Intl. Bar Association business & human rights handbook for lawyers & its domestic implementation

Author: Stéphane Brabant & Elsa Savourey, Herbert Smith Freehills, on Business and Human Rights Journal

"From Global Toolbox to Local Implementation: The IBA Practical Guide on Business and Human Rights for Business Lawyers", 17 Apr 2017

In-house counsel and lawyers who advise businesses are increasingly required to integrate human rights into their practice of law. This integration is the result of enhanced international standards, domestic laws, evolving best practices, and increasing clients’ requests. The Practical Guide on Business and Human Rights for Business the latest testament to this integration and to the new role of lawyers in the twenty-first century.

Human rights are everywhere, both inside and outside companies....As a result, the legal practices connected to human rights are...diverse...However, only a few lawyers advising businesses know what human rights mean in practice for them...

The Practical Guide is to date the most advanced initiative to help bridge the gap between the fact that lawyers feel disconnected from human rights when advising businesses, and the contribution these lawyers could actually make...This piece first explains...what it means in practice for lawyers and law firms to advise businesses on human rights and what the related risks and opportunities are. The piece then goes on to address the challenges associated with ensuring that the Practical Guide reaches the legal profession through implementation at the domestic level...

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26 June 2017

Business human rights responsibility for refugees & migrant workers: Turning policies into practice in the Middle East

Author: Samentha Goethals, Joseph Bardwell, Mariam Bhacker, & Bahaa Ezzelarab, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre in Business & Human Rights Journal

...Our focus in this piece is to consider how companies have been implementing their human rights responsibility to address the risks and challenges faced by refugees and migrant workers in the Middle East, a region that is currently experiencing unprecedented population movements. It draws on two case studies from recent research by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) on: (1) migrant construction workers in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE); and (2) Syrian refugees in garment supply-chains in Turkey.
By adopting a mixed methods research approach that includes fieldwork, company surveys and benchmarking, these cases reveal that there is still a long way to go for global businesses to fulfil their potential to help generate economic security and realize the basic rights of migrant workers and refugees to decent and fair work. In both cases, we found small clusters of leading companies and larger groups of laggards. The piece concludes with a reflection on combining increased transparency with scrutiny and benchmarking to create a ‘race to the top’, and makes recommendations for human rights due diligence to prevent exploitation and discrimination against refugees and migrant workers...

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15 June 2017

The French law on duty of care: A historic step towards making globalization work for all

Author: Sandra Cossart, Jérôme Chaplier and Tiphaine Beau de Lomenie (Business & Human Rights Journal)

The difficult journey of the French Bill on the duty of care of parent and subcontracting companies came to an end on 23 March 2017, when the French Constitutional Council [...] decided in favour of upholding the majority of the law’s text... This piece looks at how this French law fits into the growing trend to embed corporate respect for human rights into different types of legal requirements... [It] reflects on the Council ruling and a potential political shift that this decision reveals... Should the new French government maintain this leading role in Europe and at the international level, and should other states and the European Commission seize this opportunity, the duty of care law could have a similar knock-on effect and steer towards wider convergence.

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