Human Rights at the Intersection of Trade and Corporate Responsibility
Professors Biel and Roggensack
J.D. Seminar 370 (cross-listed)
| 2 credit hours
Over the past two decades, the rules governing international trade have expanded significantly in scope – both through the establishment of the World Trade Organization and the completion of several important regional trade initiatives. As these rules have grown to cover intellectual property, services trade, agriculture, and investment, there have been calls from some for new approaches to address the relationship between trade and human rights – focused in particular, though not exclusively, on trade and labor standards – and strong resistance to these efforts from others.
At the same time, corporations have found themselves at the center of a growing discussion on their appropriate roles and responsibilities in addressing human rights issues. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have led the push for stronger rules governing the relationship between business and human rights. At the same time, many corporations have embraced a range of voluntary corporate responsibility initiatives addressing workplace standards and labor practices, environmental stewardship, and other issues, seeing these both as a framework for managing risk and as a potential source of competitive advantage.
This course explores how the debates over trade and human rights and the role of business in addressing human rights continue to evolve – how they have diverged but also how they may be increasingly interconnected. Among the key questions it will examine are the following:
?What are the appropriate linkages – including the legal relationships – between trade, corporate policies/business practices, and the promotion of human rights?
?Is the growing attention to business and human rights issues largely a result of the inability of national governments and international governmental organizations to address human rights issues adequately?
?What has been the mix of mandatory/regulatory and voluntary/“self-regulatory” approaches taken to address human rights linkages both to trade and business practices? What is the relationship between “corporate responsibility” through voluntary means and “corporate accountability” through laws and regulations?
?Who are the principal stakeholders, what are their roles and motivations, and what are the principal points of contention as well as opportunities for working together?
The course will begin with several sessions designed to provide the foundations of relevant legal and policy developments, and then will turn to a closer examination of concepts of corporate responsibility, corporate accountability, and the relationship between the rules governing trade and international labor standards.
In later sessions, it will focus to a considerable degree on specific case studies and a deeper discussion of the issues each presents. The course will conclude with student-led discussions of the topics each has selected to write on – and how these relate to the larger issues discussed in earlier sessions. Throughout the course, students will be asked to examine the various approaches and differing roles of key stakeholders, including by playing the roles of those addressing the key issues from the perspectives of corporations, governments, and NGOs. A paper is required.
Recommended: International Law II; International Trade or International Trade Law or equivalent. These courses may be taken concurrently.
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|This course is not currently scheduled.