Business and Human Rights Clinical Seminar

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Spring 2014 Seminar
Meets: W 5:00pm - 7:00pm in Lewis Room 301
2 classroom credits
Required Clinic Component: International Human Rights Clinic (2-4 spring credits). Students must enroll in the clinic before they are permitted to enroll in this course.
Additional Co-/Pre-Requisites: None.
By Permission: No.
Add/Drop Deadline: January 17, 2014.
LLM Students: LLM students may apply to the clinic by submitting an application.

In recent years, a robust debate has emerged around the challenge of extending human rights norms to corporate actors. This clinical seminar will explore the fast growing field of business and human rights, highlighting the most critical legal and practical issues surrounding efforts to advance corporate responsibility and accountability. Historically, the legal and activist human rights communities have focused on state actors, with concerns about private actors often left to other fields. As the reach and influence of companies has grown—their impact on human rights has been impossible to ignore. Today, the human rights movement, governments, the private sector, and communities are all wrestling with a host of questions that arise at the intersection of business and human rights.

The United Nations and other bodies have adopted human rights standards for companies and a growing body of soft and hard law (domestic and international) is beginning to define the precise scope of corporate human rights obligations. In many cases, however, the legal debates around business and human rights are struggling to keep pace with work on the ground. In others, the human rights concepts have yet to lead to meaningful change for affected individuals and communities.

This seminar considers the various dimensions facing human rights advocates engaged in corporate responsibility or corporate accountability work. Human rights have become the currency of major brands, helping determine bank investments, corporate relations with communities, and working conditions along supply chains. Shareholder activists are demanding greater transparency and reporting on human rights, and human rights, development, and environmental NGOs have turned their attentions to these issues, while an industry of legal and management consultants has sprung up to guide companies on human rights practices. Students will delve into these and other issues, critically examining the strategic, tactical, advocacy, and ethical considerations that they raise.

A spring clinical practice component is required of all students. Clinical placements are with the International Human Rights Clinic.

Subject Areas: Business Organization, Commercial Law, and Finance , Human Rights , International, Comparative & Foreign Law .