Business & Human Rights (Course Portal)
Business and Human Rights
Fall Semester 2012
Human Rights Program
Al-Quds Bard College, Al-Quds University, Palestine
Lecturer: Valentina Azarov; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Class times: Mondays 14:00 – 16:50; Room 07, Al-Quds Bard College.
Office hours: Mondays 11:00 – 14:00, or by appointment.
The course explores how multinational corporations have become important subjects of international law with the ability to undertake violations of human rights as well as promote their respect. The course will look at case studies of business involvement in violations of the laws of armed conflict, child and forced labor and exploitative working conditions in factories, limitations on the freedom of association and expression through censorship and surveillance by internet services providers, and environmental destruction resulting from mining or oil drills. Looking at developments at the international and national levels, discussions will assess the availability and effectiveness of existing accountability and enforcement mechanisms for corporate violations of human rights, as well as some examples of business self-regulation mechanisms. The course will also consider the role that some companies have voluntarily assumed in the protection and promotion of human rights and corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the benefits they might have gained as a result. Recent developments include the Guiding Principles for the Framework for business and human rights prepared by the UN Special Representative for the Secretary-General Professor John Ruggie; advocacy on these issues by global civil society actors (including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch), multi-stakeholder initiatives and by international organizations (including International Labor Organization and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), initiatives for litigation against corporations for their complicity in violations of international law, under both civil and criminal domestic legislation, and the investigation of corporate involvement in international crimes by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. By examining the legal, economic, political and sociological aspects of the human rights obligations of companies, students will become familiar with the international and domestic efforts to regulate corporate respect for human rights and provide avenues for corporate accountability.
The course will be taught through three-hour weekly seminars over fourteen weeks. A few of the seminars will involve guest lecturers, who are local and international practitioners and scholars, as well as the screening of documentary films. We will also endeavor to organize a field visit to document and consider possible enforcement strategies for cases of human rights violations by local and multinational companies operating in Palestine.
The full course syllabus can be downloaded here.