Business and Human Rights Catalyst

This project has helped establish one of the world’s first business and human rights networks at a business school.

In particular, it showcases the School’s creativity and innovation in research by addressing some of the world’s most pressing human rights violations, while facilitating impactful research into significant policy debates.

The subject of business and human rights has grown significantly since the United Nations formally endorsed the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in 2011 - the so-called ‘Guiding Principles’ – which are based on three pillars:

  • Protect - re-affirms that nation states are the primary duty-bearers under international human rights law. This duty requires states to have effective laws and regulations in place to address business and human rights related issues.
  • Respect - stipulates that corporations have a responsibility to respect rights that is independent of the states’ obligations. There is growing debate around the extent to which this principle confers a positive moral obligation to realise rights.
  • Remedy - stresses the need for both judicial and non-judicial access to remedy where rights have been violated. While the second pillar arguably gives business a role in realising rights, this principle creates an expectation upon corporations to remediate rights abuses, effectively giving business a role in dispensing justice.

A growing list of international bodies such as the World Bank and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have adopted the Guiding Principles, while they have also been endorsed by the European Commission.