Rethinking limited liability in light of the universality of human rights

13th September | 9:00am - 12.30pm | Manchester

The Annual Conference’s theme of universality looks beyond geographical outreach of international law and draws attention to its boundaries. The workshop organized by the Interest Group on International Business and Human Rights takes a fresh view at how normative, institutional and organisational practices have shaped the concept of corporate limited liability in the context of human rights. The Workshop will focus on the intertwined legal principles of limited liability and separate legal entities - such as parent and subsidiaries corporations - in the context of international human rights law, the UNGPs, and other B&HR frameworks. The aim is to assess whether, how, and to what extent, these legal principles impact on the state duty to protect human rights, the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, and affect the victims’ right to access to remedies and to obtain compensation.
The workshop will approach this theme from three directions:

1. What do the principles of limited liability and separate entity mean for international human rights? What does it mean, for example, in the context of corruption and financial markets? How separated are subsidiaries and parent corporations in the respect of human rights?

2. Which are the effects of limited liability and separate entity on the adjudication of transnational disputes on corporate human rights abuse? Which relationship exists between limited liability, separate entity, and universal jurisdiction?

3. Why do the universality of human rights and limited liability of corporations diverge or converge? What is the role of future research and teaching of business and human rights?


The Workshop is composed of two parts. The first part will be dedicated to the presentation and discussion of several selected papers. After the networking break, a special guest will intervene in the debate. The event will close with a general meeting with IG members where the new committee of co-conveners will be introduced presented. The detailed programme will be announced at the beginning of May 2018. Please find more information about the conference here: theme | programme.

Call for papers

The event considers issues in human rights law and corporate law and aims to expand the horizon of inquiry to shed light on the institutional and organisational boundaries of the corporate respect of human rights. The discussion in the IBHR Interest Group will have the objective to foster an interdisciplinary exchange with leading experts from diverse academic disciplines and communities of practice. The decision of acceptance will be taken by the IG co-conveners and the applicants will be informed at the end of April 2018. After the conference, ESIL provides the opportunity to publish papers in the ESIL SSRN Series.

Other information

• 1st edition Summer School on ‘Business & Human Rights’, Pisa 18-22 June 2018: The flyer, the programme and the call for applications are available online.

• Summer School on ‘Business and Human Rights – Interdisciplinary Challenges and Opportunities’, Zurich 8-20 July 2018. The call for applications is available online.

ESIL selection criteria:

• Originality and innovativeness

• Relevance to the theme • Geographical and gender balance

How to submit:

• CV & abstract (max 300 words) in PDF

• Submission date: 20th April 2018

• Please email to: [email protected] and [email protected]

We wish everyone a successful academic year and are looking forward to meeting you at our workshop! For any questions, please email us at [email protected].

Your conveners

Dr Marta Bordignon, Temple University Rome

Dr Mara Tignino, University of Geneva

Prof Angelica Bonfanti, University of Milan

Dennis West, MA, MSc, University of Oxford

Mihaela Barnes, PhD Candidate, Graduate Institute, Geneva