Business and Human Rights Clinical Seminar

Business and Human Rights Clinical Seminar

Professor Tyler Giannini
Fall 2019 seminar
W 1:00pm - 3:00pm in WCC Room 3008
2 classroom credits

Students who enroll in this offering may count the credits towards the JD experiential learning requirement.

Required Clinic Component: International Human Rights Clinic (3-5 fall clinical credits). Students enrolled in the fall clinic must enroll in either this clinical seminar or Human Rights Advocacy (2 fall classroom credits). Students are not guarenteed their first choice of clinical seminars. Clinical seminar selection and enrollment occurs once a student has enrolled in the fall clinic and is orchestrated by the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs.
Additional Co-/Pre-Requisites: None.
By Permission: No.
Add/Drop Deadline: August 16, 2019.
LLM Students: LLM students may apply to the clinic by submitting an application.

This seminar will explore the growing field of business and human rights by examining live issues and problems surrounding efforts to advance corporate responsibility and accountability. In recent years, a robust debate has emerged around the challenge of extending human rights norms to corporate actors. Historically, the legal and activist human rights communities have focused on state actors, with concerns about private actors left to other fields. As the reach and influence of companies has grown—sometimes dwarfing the states in which they operate—their impact on human rights has become impossible to ignore. Today, the human rights movement has squarely engaged the private sector, marking a critical shift and raising a fascinating set of issues for human rights practitioners.

The field of business and human rights now touches on a diverse array of emerging policy and legal arenas, including company due diligence standards, judicial and non-judicial grievance mechanisms, relations between businesses and communities, extraterritorial application of domestic laws, supply chain systems, and whether there should be an international human rights treaty to regulate the conduct of corporations. A growing body of domestic and international standards and mechanisms are helping to define these areas and the precise scope of corporate human rights obligations.

Various frameworks and mechanisms have in turn led practitioners and policymakers to develop and utilize a wide range of tools in their attempts to change corporate behavior. Some have used accountability litigation, which has seen setbacks in some jurisdictions and advances in others. Others have focused energy on developing government policies and legislation, including demanding greater transparency and reporting on human rights. Many have spent time assisting communities, including supporting efforts to elevate community-based processes and community-centered mechanisms so that they are consistently part of the rights landscape and decision-making. Still others, including through an emerging industry of legal and management consultants, have sought to work with companies to create policies and operationalize human rights principles within businesses.

The seminar will engage with these varied approaches through considering current and live problems, such as what might the content of an international treaty be, or what would one include in company policies on community engagement and due diligence, or what might be the key ingredients of a grievance mechanism associated with a specific company project. Throughout the seminar, students will work collaboratively to explore these and other problems in particular contexts and deepen their knowledge about business and human rights more generally.

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