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29 Jul 2015

Danny Bradlow, University of Pretoria, in Conversation

Why we need to tread carefully in drawing up human rights rules for business

…The push to establish a business and human rights treaty is problematic given the current state of our knowledge of interactions between business and human rights. We can’t be confident that a binding treaty will not have unintended adverse consequences for the human rights of stakeholders in businesses or on their economic or environmental sustainability…[In] Human rights law…human rights are indivisible, inter-dependent and interrelated. It has not yet worked out how to deal with human rights situations that require making trade-offs, setting priorities…These are standard in business…[B]efore agreeing a binding human rights and business treaty there is a need for more research on how to adapt the fundamental propositions of human rights law to economic and business activity…We are not ready for a business and human rights treaty…Those who want more human rights compliant business practices should dedicate their efforts to developing our knowledge of how businesses actually incorporate human rights considerations into their planning and operations. Likewise, how to adapt human rights principles to respond to these practices…This knowledge can be used to strengthen the [Guiding Principles]…