S. Transnational Business and Human Rights

Course Information

Course Number
Curriculum Level
Areas of Study
Human Rights, International and Comparative Law, Labor and Employment Law

Section 001 Information


Section Description

"Business and human rights" has emerged over the past twenty-five years as a distinct field of practice and study. Companies are viewed, alongside governments, as both as a source of human rights abuse and as international actors with the capacity to promote and protect human rights. The business and human rights movement has expanded in scope from an initial focus on labor conditions in global supply chains and corporate complicity with repressive states, to examine the human rights impacts of industries as diverse as agriculture, healthcare and technology.

Companies are paying greater attention to the human rights risks connected to their businesses and contributing to a growing body of corporate human rights practice. As more individuals in the private sector, government and civil society find themselves managing business and human rights challenges, there is growing demand for lawyers and other advisors who can help companies to manage effectively the human rights impacts of business by adopting human rights policies, conducting human rights due diligence, and finding ways to prevent, mitigate and remedy actual and potential human rights impacts.

This seminar prepares students to provide sound business and human rights advice, placing them in the shoes of both corporate decision-makers and human rights advocates seeking to influence corporate policies and practices. Drawing on international standards, industry case studies, legal proceedings, the work of international organizations, and a growing academic literature, the class explores four inter-related themes: 1) corporate responsibility; 2) human rights standards; 3) corporate accountability; and 4) business practice.

Requirements: The course meets once weekly, with assigned readings, class discussion and in-class exercises. Grading is based on 1) class participation, including weekly response questions; 2) a short written assignment; and 3) a final written "CEO memo."

School Year & Semester
Spring 2024
WJWH 416
Class meets on
  • Wednesday
4:20 pm - 6:10 pm
Method of Evaluation
J.D Writing Credit?
Minor (automatic)
LLM Writing Project
Upon consultation
Writing Credit Note
Students may fulfill their LL.M. writing requirement in the seminar with instructor approval of a legal research topic for their seminar paper.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the relevance of international human rights standards for business enterprises and the practical implications for business managers of the corporate responsibility to respect human rights.
  • Expose students to the language and tools to provide sound "business and human rights" advice to corporate executives, government officials, and civil society advocates.
  • Consider how companies can best address the human rights impacts of their operations and relationships.
  • Survey available remedies to hold companies accountable for their human rights impacts.

Course Limitations

Instructor Pre-requisites
Instructor Co-Requisites
Recommended Courses
Other Limitations