The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights submitted a written response to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in response to the recent report entitled Corporate liability for gross human rights abuses: Towards a fairer and more effective system of domestic law remedies by Dr. Jennifer Zerk (the Zerk Report) and the report’s call for consultations. The Zerk Report is aimed at furthering development of the business and human rights framework, but risks taking a too conservative and narrow approach that doesn’t reflect the current state of international human rights law.
The Global Initiatives response focused on five key areas of the report, namely:
- Definition and limitations of ‘gross human rights abuses’ (section 2);
- Role of civil society organisations (section 3)
- Extra-territorial aspects of the State ‘duty to protect’ (section 4);
- Extra-territorial jurisdiction as a barrier to corporations’ home State law enforcement (section 5); and
- Treaty-based initiatives (section 6).
It is hoped that as the area of business and human rights continues to be developed that the framework includes within its scope violations of all human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights, as well as the extra-territorial obligations of States to ensure that corporate actors don’t violate human rights abroad and, if such violations occur, provide accessible accountability mechanisms and effective remedies to victims of those violations.
As the report concludes: “In our view the solution to the problem of corporate accountability for human rights abuses will be a long-term, multi-pronged project involving extensive efforts to build domestic legal systems and capacities, increased home State regulation of business entities operating abroad, improved access for foreign victims to home State legal systems and an international instrument which imposes enforceable obligations on business entities including those operating across State borders.”
The Global Initiative’s submission can be found HERE.