Teaching Resources

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Introducing the UN Guiding Principles

Teachers have many resources at their disposal for introducing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The six-year mandate of the UN Special Representative produced a slew of reports and supporting material that can be used in the classroom. Primary sources include the UN Framework and Guiding Principles themselves. There is also large body of commentary and related reports surrounding the development, adoption and ongoing implementation of the UN Guiding Principles. A clearinghouse for many of these resources is the UN Guiding Principles portal hosted by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre.

The following resources have been identified by teachers as particularly useful as classroom material, assigned readings, and research sources for introducing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights:

Readings
Primary Sources
  • Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework, Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises,” UN doc. A/HRC/17/31 (21 March 2011).

The Special Representative’s final report to the Human Rights Council includes an introduction to the Guiding Principles, an overview of the process that led to their development, and the Guiding Principles in their entirety as an Annex.

  • Protect, Respect and Remedy: A Framework for Business and Human Rights, UN doc. A/HRC/8/5 (7 April 2008).

The Special Representative’s recommended framework to serve as a “focal point around which the expectations and actions of relevant stakeholders could converge,” welcomed unanimously by the Human Rights Council.

  • Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations, Business and Human Rights: Mapping International Standards of Responsibility and Accountability for Corporate Acts, UN doc. A/HRC/4/035 (9 Feb. 2007).

Surveys five categories of sources of responsibility for corporate acts: the state duty to protect; corporate responsibility for international crimes; corporate responsibility for other violations under international law; “soft law” mechanisms; and self-regulation.

  • Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations, Clarifying the concepts of ‘sphere of influence’ and ‘complicity’ (15 May 2008), available at http://www.business-humanrights.org/Links/Repository/446573.
  • Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations, Human Rights Impact Assessments – Resolving Key Methodological Questions, UN doc. A/HRC/4/74 (5 February 2007).
  • Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations, Human Rights and Corporate Law, UN doc. A/HRC/17/31/Add.2 (23 May 2011).
  • John Gerard Ruggie, Just Business: Multinational Corporations and Human Rights (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2013).

A first-hand history of the creation of the UN Framework and Guiding Principles. Chapters include a concise historical summary of paradigmatic BHR cases (Nike, Union Carbide, Shell, Yahoo!), descriptions of the development of the Framework and the Guiding Principles, and discussion of “strategic paths” forward and next steps.

  • UN Human Rights Council, Elaboration of an internationally legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, UN doc. A/HRC/26/L.22/Rev.1 (25 June 2014).
  • UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, The Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights: An Interpretive Guide, UN Doc. HR/PUB/12/02 (2012), available at http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/HR.PUB.12.2_En.pdf)
  • UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, Norms on the responsibilities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises with regard to human rights (2003), available at http://www.unhchr.ch/huridocda/huridoca.nsf/%28Symbol%29/E.CN.4.Sub.2.2003.12.Rev.2.En
Commentary Legal
  • Chris Albin-Lackey, Without Rules: A Failed Approach to Corporate Accountability (Human Rights Watch, 2013), available at http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2013/essays/112459.
  • Sarah Altshuller et al, Corporate Social Responsibility, International Lawyer (Sept. 2011), 179-189.
  • Larry Catá Backer, On the Evolution of the United Nations’ ‘Protect-Respect-Remedy’ Project: The State, the Corporation and Human Rights in a Global Governance Context, Santa Clara Journal of International Law (Vol. 9, No.1, Jun. 3, 2010), available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1619939.
  • David Bilchitz, A Chasm Between ‘Is’ and ‘Ought’? A Critique of the Normative Foundations of the SRSG’s Framework and the Guiding Principles, in Surya Deva and David Bilchitz, eds. Human Rights Obligations of Business: Beyond the Corporate Responsibility to Respect? (Cambridge University Press, 2013), 107.
  • David Bilchitz, The Moral and Legal Necessity for a Business and Human Rights Treaty (November 30, 2014), available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2562760.
  • David Bilchitz, The Ruggie Framework: An Adequate Rubric for Corporate Human Rights Obligations?, Sur – International Journal of Human Rights (Vol. 7, No. 12, June 2010), 199-218, available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1394367.
  • Karin Buhmann, Regulating Corporate Social and Human Rights Responsibilities at the UN Plane: Institutionalising New Forms of Law and Law-making Approaches? Nordic Journal of International Law (Vol. 78, No. 1, 2009), 1-52.
  • Andrew Clapham, Human Rights Obligations of Non-State Actors (Oxford University Press, 2006).
  • Surya Deva, ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’: A Critique of the SRSG’s Framework for Business and Human Rights in Karin Buhmann, Lynn Roseberry and Mette Morsing, eds., Corporate Social and Human Rights Responsibilities: Global Legal and Management Perspectives (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 108.
  • Surya Deva and David Bilchitz, eds. Human Rights Obligations of Business: Beyond the Corporate Responsibility to Respect? (Cambridge University Press, 2013).
  • Erika R. George, Incorporating Rights: Making the Most of the Meantime (University of Utah College of Law Research Paper No. 112, 2014), available at http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=2560082.
  • Goldhaber, The Global Lawyer: The Movement for Law Firms Human Rights Gathers Steam, The American Lawyer Daily, January 16, 2013.
  • Chris Jochnick, Challenging Corporate Power Through Human Rights, in Cesar Rodriguez-Garavito, ed. Business and Human Rights: Beyond the End of the Beginning (2015).
  • David Kinley, Justine Nolan and Natalie Zerial, ‘The Norms are dead! Long live the Norms!’ The politics behind the UN Human Rights Norms for Corporations,” in Doreen McBarnet, Aurora Voiculescu and Tom Campbell, eds., The New Corporate Accountability. Corporate Social Responsibility and the Law (Cambridge University Press, 2009), 459-475.
  • David Kinley and Junko Tadaki, From Talk to Walk: The Emergence of Human Rights Responsibilities for Corporations at International Law, Virginia Journal of International Law (Vol. 44, No. 4, 2004), 931-1023, available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=923360.
  • Rae Lindsay, Robert McCorquodale, Lara Blecher, Jonathan Bonnitcha, Antony Crockett and Audley Sheppard, Human rights responsibilities in the oil and gas sector: applying the UN Guiding Principles, Journal of World Energy Law & Business (Vol. 6, No. 1, 2013), 2-66.
  • Robert McCorquodale, Corporate Social Responsibility and Human Rights Law, Journal of Business Ethics (Vol. 87, 2009), 385-400
  • Robert McCorquodale, International Human Rights Law Perspectives on the UN Framework and Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, in Lara Blecher, Nancy Kaymar Stafford and Gretchen C. Bellamy, eds., Corporate Responsibility for Human Rights Impacts: New Expectations and Paradigms (American Bar Association, 2014), 51.
  • Peter Muchlinski, Implementing the New UN Corporate Human Rights Framework: Implications for Corporate Law, Governance and Regulation, Journal of Business Ethics (Vol. 22, Jan. 2012), 145.
  • Justine Nolan, Refining the Rules of the Game: The Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights, Utrecht Journal of International and European Law (Vol. 30, No. 78, Feb. 28, 2014), 7–23.
  • Chip Pitts, The United Nations ‘Protect, Respect, Remedy’ Framework and Guiding Principles, in Dorothée Baumann-Pauly and Justine Nolan, eds., Business and Human Rights: From Principles to Practice (Routledge, 2016), 51.
  • Steven Ratner, Corporations and Human Rights: A Theory of Legal Responsibility, Yale Law Journal (Vol. 111 , 2001), 452-60.
  • John Gerard Ruggie, Incorporating Human Rights: Lessons Learned, and Next Steps, in Dorothée Baumann-Pauly and Justine Nolan, eds., Business and Human Rights: From Principles to Practice (Routledge, 2016), 64.
  • Sara L. Seck, Corporate Law Tools and the Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, in Manoj Kumar Sinha, ed., Business and Human Rights (Sage, 2013), 93.
  • Andrea Shemberg, New Global Standards for Business and Human Rights, Business Law International (International Bar Association, Vol. 13, No. 1, January 2012).
  • John F. Sherman III and Amy K. Lehr, Human Rights Due Diligence: Is It Too Risky?, The CSR Journal (Vol. 6, Jan. 2010), available at http://meetings.abanet.org/webupload/commupload/IC634100/newsletterpubs/CSRJournalJanuary2010.pdf.
  • David Weissbrodt, Keynote Address: International Standard Setting on the Human Rights Responsibilities of Businesses, Berkeley Journal of International Law (Vol. 26, 2008), 373, 380-91 .
Commentary Business
  • John Douglas Bishop, The Limits of Corporate Human Rights Obligations and the Rights of For-Profit Corporations, Business Ethics Quarterly (Vol. 22, January 2012), 119.
  • Wesley Cragg, Ethics, Enlightened Self-Interest, and the Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights, A Critical Look at the Justificatory Foundations of the UN Framework,” Business Ethics Quarterly (Vol. 22, January 2012), 9.
  • Thomas Donaldson, Multinational Decision-Making: Reconciling International Norms, Journal of Business Ethics (Vol. 4, 1985), 357-66.
  • Anthony P. Ewing, What Executives Need to Know (and Do) About Human Rights (February 2013), available at http://www.logosconsulting.net/publication/what-executives-need-to-know-and-do-about-human-rights/.
  • Thomas Maak, The Cosmopolitan Corporation, Journal of Business Ethics (Vol. 84, 2009), 361-71
  • Radu Mares, ed., The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Foundations and Implementation (Brill, 2011).
  • Ken, McPhail, Human Rights Should Be on the MBA Curriculum, Financial Times (March 16, 2014), available at http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/21f1fa54-8aa1-11e3-9465-00144feab7de.html#axzz40dY5tN6z.
  • Sébastien Mena , Marieke de Leede, Dorothée Baumann, Nicky Black, Sara Lindeman and Lindsay McShane, Advancing the Business & Human Rights Agenda: Dialogue, Empowerment and Constructive Engagement, Journal of Business Ethics (Vol. 93, 2010), 161-188.
  • Florian Wettstein, CSR and the Debate on Business and Human Rights: Bridging the Great Divide, Business Ethics Quarterly (Vol. 22, October 2012)
  • Florian Wettstein, Normativity, Ethics, and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: A Critical Assessment, Journal of Human Rights (Vol. 14, No. 2, April 3, 2015), 162–82.
  • Stepan Wood, The Case for Leverage-Based Corporate Human Rights Responsibility, Business Ethics Quarterly (Vol. 22, January 2012), 63.
Commentary Policy
  • Christine Bader, The U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Analysis and Implementation, The Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University (March 2012), available at http://kenan.ethics.duke.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/UN-Guiding-Principles-on-Business-and-Human-Rights-Analysis-and-Implementation.pdf.
  • John Gerard Ruggie, Global Governance and “New Governance Theory”: Lessons from Business and Human Rights, Global Governance (Vol. 20, 2014), 5-17.
  • John Gerard Ruggie, Life in the Global Public Domain: Response to Commentaries on the UN Guiding Principles and the Proposed Treaty on Business and Human Rights, (Social Science Research Network, January 23, 2015), available at http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=2554726.
  • Nina Seppala, Business and the International Human Rights Regime: A Comparison of UN Initiatives, Journal of Business Ethics (Vol. 87, No. 2, 2009), 401–17.
  • Mark Taylor, The Ruggie Framework: Polycentric regulation and the 
implications of corporate social responsibility, Nordic Journal of Applied Ethics (2011), 19-28.
Reports Inter-Governmental

Applies the UN Guiding Principles to specific industrial sectors: employment & recruitment agencies, information and communication technologies (ICT) companies and oil & gas companies.

Reports Civil Society
  • Human Rights Watch, et al, Joint Civil Society Statement on the draft Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (January 2011).

Highlights areas in which the Guiding Principles fall short of international human rights standards according to civil society organizations.

Demystifies the Guiding Principle for business lawyers, providing tools on how to advise their clients to respect human rights in their business and how to navigate the shifting boundaries between hard and soft law.

Reports Business
Videos

In this interview and Q&A moderated by Chris Jochnick, Director of Private Sector at Oxfam America, Harvard Professor John Ruggie, author of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, provides insight into his groundbreaking work, contending that it is simply good business for business to be just, in the sense of it being principled.

  • NYU Law, Launch of John Ruggie’s Just Business: Multinational Corporations and Human Rights (May 30, 2013) (1:34:36), available at: https://youtu.be/_UjdBGg0Fd0.

The event features a panel discussion moderated by Professor Philip Alston, Co-Chair of NYU School of Law’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. Professor Ruggie and a cross-section of esteemed commentators discussed the evolution of the UN Guiding Principles, their contributions to the field of business and human rights today, and their ongoing potential as a game-changing standard of practice.

Speakers address the state of the field of business and human rights going forward. The contrasting remarks of Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Thematic Issues, Amnesty International and John Ruggie, former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Business and Human Rights, in particular, illustrate distinct perspectives on the utility of mandatory versus voluntary approaches, and the Guiding Principles versus the business and human rights treaty process.

Exercises / Lesson Plans/ Teaching Cases / Presentations
  • Lynn Sharp Paine and Lara Adamsons, Business and Human Rights, Harvard Business School Industry and Background Note No. 9-309-097 (rev. September 2, 2011).
  • Rebecca Henderson and Nien-Hê Hsieh, Putting the Guiding Principles into Action: Human Rights at Barrick Gold, Harvard Business School Case No. 9-315-108 (rev. December 10, 2017).

“The case provides students with an opportunity to analyze the challenges that arise from operating in environments with weak state institutions; to examine the challenges of implementing voluntary frameworks, . . . , and their potential as alternatives to state institutions; to learn about the field of business and human rights; and to develop an analytic framework for evaluating the responsibilities of business leaders to society, especially from the perspective of human rights.”

  • The Treaty Route for Business and Human Rights, Lesson Plan by Lisa J. Laplante, Associate Professor, New England Law (PDF).
  • UN Guiding Principles Exercise, Freshfields Bruckaus Deringer LLP (PDF)
  • Bennett Freeman, Business and Human Rights: Intensifying Expectations for Companies, Oxford Saïd Business School (28 May 2018) (PDF)

[*] This bibliography may be cited as:

Anthony P. Ewing, “Teaching Resources for Introducing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,” in Teaching Business and Human Rights Handbook (Teaching Business and Human Rights Forum, 2016), https://teachbhr.org/resources/teaching-bhr-handbook/teaching-notes/introducing-the-un-guiding-principles-on-business-and-human-rights-2/teaching-resources/.

The Teaching Business and Human Rights Forum maintains a Syllabi Bank for business and human rights courses or modules taught by Forum members. The syllabi contained there were consulted as background in the preparation of this Teaching Note.