Call for Papers: Business and Human Rights workshop in Aarhus in October

Call for Papers for the workshop at Aarhus University on 2-3 October about the Responsibility of Home States, the European Union, and International Organizations in the area of Business and Human Rights and Testimonies from Communities and Individuals Impacted by Business Activities

07.04.2017 | Tara Van Ho

Dato man 15 maj
Tid 00:01 23:59

Participation in the Workshop 

CV and abstracts of no more than 500 words should be sent in Word or PDF, by 15 May 2017.

Advanced first drafts of all papers are due 2 weeks before the workshop, by 17 September 2017.

The ‘no paper – no platform’ rule is in effect for this workshop.

About the workshop

INTRALaw (International and Transnational Tendencies in Law) at Aarhus University, Denmark, is hosting a two-day workshop on business and human rights, 2-3 October 2017. The event will convene experts from around the world to discuss the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and its focus on communities’ access to remedies for corporate related human rights abuses.

Participants are expected to present papers that address human rights impacts on victims and discuss best corporate and government practices to prevent future human rights abuses. The workshop will also include testimonies from affected individuals.

Workshop Format

On the first day, papers discussing the experience of victims of corporate human rights abuse will be presented. On the second day, the response of the current international legal system will be considered. The hope is that this format and the selection of the papers will allow for a conversation about which needs of victims are not currently being met by the international legal system and what changes are necessary to ensure human rights are respected, protected, and fulfilled.

First Day – The Experience of Victims of Human Rights Abuses

Contributions for the first day will cover business and human rights from the perspective of the rights-bearers. Papers will consist of first-person narratives from individuals and communities who have been or are affected by business operations. The contributors will facilitate these narratives through interviews with individuals in affected communities. As a result, the papers will reflect the perceptions and experiences of the affected persons and communities.

Each proposed paper for the first day will consist of:

  1. a first person (or reported) narrative, which relates the experiences of an individual or group with respect to human rights impacts of businesses;
  2. a summary and analysis by the individual contributor placing the narrative in the context of the factual events and of the country visit carried out by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights; and
  3. If applicable, an excerpt from the Working Group’s end of mission statement (after each country visit) that would juxtapose the Working Group’s findings with the narratives of those affected. 

Second Day – Response of the Current International Legal System

The second day will examine the extent to which human rights obligations to regulate and remediate impacts by businesses already attach to home states, the European Union, and International Organizations. 

The international community is in the process of negotiating a new treaty to address the human rights impacts of transnational corporations. Amongst the major considerations is the question of whether direct international legal obligations should attach to corporations. Traditionally, only states have held international human rights law obligations, while some argue that member states’ responsibilities are imputed to the European Union and to International Organizations such as the United Nations and the World Bank.

Extending the new treaty’s obligations to corporations would therefore represent a break in traditional international legal approaches to human rights. This raises several questions, including, but perhaps most pertinently: is this a necessary change to the international legal order or an insufficient answer to complex problems of accountability?

Determining whether direct corporate obligations are necessary requires considerations about the extent to which the existing framework meets the needs of victims. 

Contributions for the second day will address aspects of two main issues:

  1. what substantive expectations currently exist in international human rights law for corporations, States, the EU and International Organizations; and
  2. do these responses suggest a need for the direct international legal responsibility of corporations.

All presenters will also be asked to comment on another presenter’s paper.

Outcome of the Workshop

The two-day workshop, which will culminate in two distinct publications on business and human rights, will address the above-mentioned issues by considering both the voices of victims and the current response of the international legal system to corporate abuses of human rights. The intention is to create a dialogue between the two groups so as to stimulate developments in international law frameworks that more effectively respond to the needs of victims.

Strong papers will be considered for publication in either a special issue or an edited volume.