human rights & business (and a few other things)

First graduates of the MA Human Rights and Business at Middlesex

The graduation ceremony of Middlesex University School of Law was held on Wednesday 17 July. It is always a special occasion for students, their families and staff. This one was even more special for me as the first participants in the MA Human Rights and Business graduated.

The School of Law stuck to its great tradition of granting honorary doctorates to individuals with strong human rights backgrounds. After Shami Chakrabarti (Director of Liberty) in 2011 and Fatou Bensouda (Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court) in 2012, Michael D. Higgins, the current President of the Republic of Ireland, is now a doctor honoris causa of the University.

In the picture from left to right: Abraham Nahr of the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights and currently a PhD student at Middlesex; me; Sanne Borges, Senior Adviser on Business and Human Rights at Amnesty International Denmark; and Professor Joshua Castellino, Dean of the School of Law.

Call for papers – Beyond State Obligations in International Human Rights Law

GLOTHRO will hold its final conference on “Beyond State Obligations in International Human Rights Law – Towards Common Principles on the Obligations of Multiple Global Actors” on 27 – 29 March 2014 at the Åbo Akademi Institute for Human Rights (Åbo/Turku, Finland).

Background information

Human rights violations occur daily, all over the world. While the violations involve various actors, conventional international human rights law limits responsibility principally to the domestic state. But what happens when the actions or inactions of states entail violations of the human rights of people living beyond their borders? Are there extraterritorial human rights obligations? What about responsibilities for human rights impairments that result from the conduct of other actors, such as companies or international organisations? The conference is the concluding science meeting of the Research Networking Programme /Beyond Territoriality: Globalisation and Transnational Human Rights Obligations /(RNP GLOTHRO), which provides a critical overview of its findings while also indicating any remaining research gaps and future research opportunities.

The decentered position of the state and the increased power and impact of corporations and international organisations, pose major practical and conceptual challenges to human rights law. In practice, human rights law faces a serious risk of marginalization if it fails to adapt to this changing reality. Conceptually, the decentered position of the territorial state requires us to fundamentally re-think the basic tenet of human rights law that places human rights
obligations primarily on the territorial state. Since its establishment in 2010, the RNP GLOTHRO has sought to widen the circle of human rights duty-bearers beyond the territorial state, by bringing together the separate fields of study respectively on the human rights obligations of transnational corporations, international organizations and non-territorial states while also involving other disciplines in order to identify common principles determining the human rights obligations of the respective actors within an overall human rights obligations framework.

Call for papers

At its Final Conference in March 2014 the RNP GLOTHRO provides the possibility particularly for early-stage scholars from various fields such as general international law, humanitarian law, human rights law or environmental law, but also from legal and political philosophy, international relations, globalization studies and so on, to present their views on the prospective cross-cutting legal principles relevant for the attribution and distribution of responsibility between foreign states, transnational corporations and international organisations. We strongly invite submissions that go beyond the discussion of a sole type of duty-bearer or field of study. Paper proposals should seek to explore potential principles, which would ultimately allow the development of a multi-duty bearer framework between States and non-State actors in international human rights law. Papers may explore such questions as:

-Which concepts that have been developed in other branches of international law on issues of common concern can be useful for the further development of a multi-duty bearer framework in international human rights law?

-How do the various emerging frameworks, such as the Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (May 2011), relate to each other?

-How to construct the division and/or attribution of responsibility between member States and organizations such as the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank?

-How do we distribute responsibility between the different actors considering the State is the primary duty bearer?

Authors are invited to submit an abstract of maximum 4000 characters. Full papers are not accepted and the abstracts should be suitable for blind review. Please, submit your abstract with all identifying references removed by 22 July 2013  using the on-line registration form at the conference website.

The selection of abstracts will be finalised by 12 August 2013. The deadline for submission of full papers, which should consist of 5000-6000 words, is 15 February 2014. The selected papers will be made available to the conference participants through the conference website and may later be processed for publication in a special journal issue.

Intensive course at Middlesex University – “Confidence Crisis in Human Rights: Implications for the UK”

The Intensive course “Confidence Crisis in Human Rights: Implications for the UK” will be held from 9 to 13 September 2013 at Middlesex University School of Law, London.

The five-day course is divided into three parts.

On the first day, students will be introduced to the events and ideologies that have resulted in a situation where countries that once led the creation of human rights norms and monitoring mechanisms at international level, are now distancing themselves from these.

Days two, three and four, forming the second part, will focus on incendiary and divisive human rights topics that dominate intergovernmental agendas, in particular:

  • (i) the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of religion;
  • (ii) the consequences for human rights of austerity measures and migration policies;
  • (iii) a critical examination of the role of the United Nations Security Council and international law in conflict zones.

The third part, on day five, will focus on emerging themes and challenges represented by the applicability of the human rights framework, with the activities undertaken by corporations, and the relationship between development projects, the environment and human rights driving the discussion. I will teach a session on that last day.

Tuition fee: £400 (£200 for Middlesex alumni). Accommodation, travel costs and other expenses are not included.

The course is for everyone with an interest in human rights issues such as journalists, policy makers, and students.

For the application form and for further information, please visit the webpage. You can also check the course brochure.

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