Business & Human Rights Journal (Volume 1, 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.

Editors-in-Chief: 

        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 1, Issue 2, July 2016

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Article
12 February 2018

Mapping recent developments in transparency of extractive industries

Author: Zorka Milin

"Mapping Recent Developments in Transparency of Extractive Industries," 2 May 2016

Secrecy and poor human rights often go hand in hand with each other, especially in developing countries that are rich in natural resources. This is part of the phenomenon known as the “resource curse” - the paradox that many resource-rich countries tend to be even worse off than otherwise similarly situated countries: more impoverished, more unequal, more authoritarian and more conflict-prone.

In an effort to alleviate the resource curse, a number of transparency initiatives and laws have emerged in recent years, seeking to ensure that natural resource wealth will benefit the people of resource-rich developing countries, rather than perpetuate corruption, conflict and poverty. This includes a variety of legal mandates and quasi-voluntary commitments to: disclose revenues paid by companies to resource-rich countries; fully disclose terms of natural resource contracts; report on the presence of conflict minerals in corporate supply chains; and make public who benefits from anonymous companies that are involved in natural resource extraction.

The aim here is to survey and map this landscape, with a particular focus on revenue transparency, and with an eye to outlining the emerging global transparency standard and reflecting on some challenges that lie ahead and the broader significance of natural resource revenue transparency, in particular linkages with human rights issues...

 

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Article
12 February 2018

Respecting human rights in the on-demand economy: Closing the new governance gap

Author: Faris Natour

"Respecting Human Rights in the On-Demand Economy: Closing the New Governance Gap," 11 April 2016

We are in the midst of a dramatic economic revolution...[which is] changing attitudes towards both employment and services. This new economy...is often referred to as the sharing economy...the "gig", or on-demand economy... This article seeks to apply a business and human rights lens to these new economic models. It explores potential human rights impacts associated with the shift to the on-demand economy, reviews recent efforts in business and public policy to begin to address these impacts, and points to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights...as a useful framework to define responsibility and guide action by both business and government...

There are several risks to human rights resulting from [the so-called governance] gaps [e.g., related to the workers' rights to protection against unemployment, and to the right to security in the event of sickness]... 

[Though] [c]ompanies have a responsibility to respect...independently of the state's duty to protect, human rights..., we have yet to see a company in the on-demand economy that has adopted a comprehensive [and proactive] human rights approach, and no government has formally launched a broad public policy approach to address human rights in the on-demand economy. However, a growing number of new ideas and initiatives in the public policy sphere, as well as key steps taken by companies seek to address the most widely discussed risks to worker's rights... [refers to AirBnB, Marriott, Starwood, Lyft, Uber]

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Article
12 February 2018

The record of intl. financial institutions on business & human rights

Author: Jessica Evans

"The Record of International Financial Institutions on Business and Human Rights," 2 May 2016

As lenders to both governments and corporations, International Financial Institutions (IFIs) have the sway and responsibility to prevent and address human rights abuses perpetrated by businesses... This article...describes how IFIs do very little to encourage or support governments to protect their people from corporate abuse, shy away from human rights due diligence, and, with the exception of their independent accountability mechanisms which capture a tiny fraction of their mistakes, fail to ensure remedy for abuse...

To date, no IFIs ensure that the environmental and social due diligence of companies that they finance encompasses human rights due diligence to identify, prevent, and mitigate potential adverse rights impacts of their activities... Alongside this, the IFIs themselves do not comprehensively and continually analyze social risks... The World Bank, which lends more than other IFIs to governments...is [for example] more often associated with deregulation than supporting governments to properly regulate business conduct...

With the institutions themselves claiming immunity from suit in almost all jurisdictions, and with the local justice systems in many of the places where IFIs invest being inaccessible or ineffective...accountability mechanisms are often the only place to which communities can turn to seek redress beyond appealing to the company directly... [However] the outcome rarely provides adequate remedy or results in systemic changes within the company responsible or the financing IFI...

Now is the time for the World Bank to lead on human rights...by integrating human rights due diligence into its policies and practices, embedding it in its technical advice as well as its budget support and project lending. Both existing and emerging IFIs...can then follow suit. [refers to Nicaragua Sugar Estates and Dinant]

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