Human Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility
Specific Instruments
  General Instruments
  Selected Case Law
  Case Law Websites
  Human Rigths Actors
The global economy offers unprecedented opportunities to business. Transnational companies are investing in and sourcing from an ever-increasing number of emerging markets. These opportunities bring with them serious threats to human rights - operating in conflict zones, under regimes with a weak rule of law where human rights are violated, companies tend to approve of these regimes or even take advantage of local nuisances to increase their profits. As the influence of global companies grows in the world economy, and as their impact on the societies in which they work deepens, it is becoming evident that their licence to operate and their reputation depend on their acceptability to society at large. Respect for human rights is at the core of this acceptability, demanding a firm commitment to upholding international human rights standards.
Specific Instruments
Declaration on the Right to Development
Date of adoption: 10/5/1999 Entry into force: -
System of protection: Universal
European Convention on the Recognition of the Legal Personality of International Non-Governmental Organisations
Date of adoption: 24/4/1986 Entry into force: 1/1/1991
System of protection: Council of Europe
Declaration on the Protection of Human Rights and the Principle of Non-Intervention in Internal Affairs of States
Date of adoption: 13/9/1989 Entry into force: -
System of protection: Universal
General Instruments
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
Date of adoption: 16/12/1966 Entry into force: 3/1/1976
System of protection: Universal
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
Date of adoption: 10/12/1948 Entry into force: -
System of protection: Universal
ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work
Date of adoption: 18/6/1998 Entry into force: -
System of protection: Other
Corporate Social Responsibility: Why good people behave badly in organizations
Pratima BANSAL - Sonia KANDOLA
Latest update: 29/09/2003 First published: 4/2003
Reference: Ivey Business Journal Online
Whistle blowers wouldn’t exist if a company were doing the right things to promote social responsibility.
Time for a United Nations "Global Compact" for Integrating Human Rights into the Law of Worldwide Organizations: Lessons from European Integration
Latest update: 30/10/2002 First published: 2002
Reference: European Journal of International Law, Vol. 13 (2002) No. 3, p. 621
Legal, economic and political arguments for integrating human rights into the law of worldwide organizations - Neglected dimensions in UN human rights law - The need for multi-level constitutionalism protecting human rights more effectively.
Languages: English
Explains the relationship between human rights and development, and details the right to development. Links to documents, events, news, partners.
Languages: English
The aim of this "online library" is to provide easy access (through links) to a wide range of materials on subjects relating to business and human rights.
Languages: English
Reference centre for corporate social responsibilty issues with news, information and a database including a lot of publications and links to relevant organizations
Languages: English
Resource guides on different development issues, most with human rights sub-themes - Good links - Development country profiles - News - Directory of websites, databases, library catalogues and email discussion lists.
Languages: English
personal site of Mallen Baker - Development Director for Business in the Community - with different issues, news and views of corporate social responsibility across the world
Languages: English
Information of the International Business Leaders Forum about different CSR issues
Languages: English French Spanish
Files and reports - Trade Agreements and human rights - Financial institutions and human rights - Transnational Firms and Human Rights - Economic, social and cultural rights and globalisation.
Languages: English
The primary goal of this site is to compile news articles and commentaries that address issues of human rights from news sources throughout the world. People and organizations (human rights actors) - Discussions - links to web sites.
Languages: English French Spanish
Press releases - Composition of the Commission - Documents - Reports.
Languages: English
Information about different activities of the project: research, training, advisory.
Languages: English
Plenty of information about development in Asia and the Pacific, some of which mentions the Right to Development.
Languages: English
Amnesty's Business Group informs about current campaigns and gives general information and an overview of publications and links to CSR relevated issues
Languages: English
UK Department of Trade and Industry website informing about CSR and government engagements
Languages: Arabic Chinese English French Japanese Russian Spanish
Information on the World Summit on Sustainable Development, including some rights-related materials.
Selected Case Law
Case Law Websites
Council of Europe - Human Rights Web
Languages: English French
Search the case-law of the European Convention on Human Rights control bodies.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline project
Amnesty International UK Date: 5/2003
Source: Amnesty International UK
This Report draws attention to the serious human rights implications of this pipeline project. The report focuses on the ways in which the legal agreement, signed by the Turkish government and the BP-led consortium of oil companies, in effect creates a human rights-free corridor for the pipeline.
Responsible Competitiveness - Corporate Responsibility Clustering in Action.
Simon Zadek, John Sabapathy, Helle Dossing, Tracey Swift Date: 1/2003
Reference: -
Source: AccountAbility
This report is the third in a series by AccountAbility and the Copenhagen Centre which explores the relationship between corporate responsiblity and the competitiveness of nations and regions. In particular it assesses the potential for Corporate Responsiblity Clusters to reshape sectors, markets and eventually the global economy.
Communication on Corporate Social Responsibility
European Comission Date: 2/7/2002
Reference: COM(2002) 347 final
Source: European Comission
Different policies how to promote CSR in Europe
Draft Commentary on the Norms of Responsibility of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights
El-Hadji Guissé, Miguel Alfonso-Martínez, Vladimir Khartashkin, Soo-Gil Park, David Weissbrodt Date: 2002
Reference: U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/2003/XX, E/CN.4/Sub.2/2003/WG.2/WP.1
Source: University of Minnesota
Draft for the UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights on norms concerning human rights relevant to business
Business and social responsibility in Indonesia
Melody Kemp Date: 1/12/2001
Reference: Technology, Business and Society Programme Paper, Number 6, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development
Source: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
A new study by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development examines efforts to change business practices in Indonesia and asks whether corporate social responsibility is relevant to the current state of crisis in the region.
Business and Human Rights: A Progress Report
HCNUDH / OHCHR Date: 1/2000
Reference: Special Issue Papers
Source: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
In this report: why human rights are important to business, what human rights are from the business perspective, where human rights standards and guidelines can be found and how to move from a statement of principle to real practice.
The relationship between the enjoyment of human rights, in particular economic, social and cultural rights, and income distribution
José Bengoa (Special Rapporteur - Rapporteur Spécial) Date: 30/7/1997
Reference: E/CN.4/Sub.2/1997/9
Source: United Nations
Burma, Total and Human Rights: dissection of a project
Béatrice Laroche, Anne-Christine Habbard Date: 10/1996
Reference: N°224, October 1996
Source: FIDH
Report about the situation of a site of the French corporate group Total in Burma
Nationality, Migration Rights and Citizenship of the Union
Stephen HALL
Reference: Dordrecht, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1995
Languages: English
Legal implications of establishing a European citizenship - Nationality and community law - Nationality and Union supervision - Citizenship migration rights, their direct effect, limitations and conditions - Analysis of case law.
Global Governance, Economy and Law
Reference: New York - London, Routledge Studies in International Law, Routledge, 2003
Languages: English
Drawing on history, political science, law and economics, the authors examine institutions such as the UN, the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank and also the global private sector and reveal their inability to promote and protect human rights.
Empires of Profit: Commerce, Conquest and Corporate Responsibility
Reference: UK, Texere, 2003
Languages: English
This book traces the clashes of culture and unexpected social problems encountered by multinational companies, past and present. How multinationals fail to shape to their own advantage the social and political environment in which they operate.
Misguided Virtue - false notions of Corporate Social Responsibility
Reference: New Zealand, New Zealand Business Roundtable, 2001
Languages: English
A challenging critique of the growing CSR movement, and of its uncritical acceptance by many corporations. Outline and review of the doctrine of CSR and assessment of its implications for the conduct of business and for economic performance.
L'Union européenne et la gouvernance
F. Snyder Ed.
Reference: Bruxelles, Travaux du CERIC, Bruylant, 2003
Languages: English French
While focusing on governance in the EU integration process, the book studies a number of Human Rights-related issues, such as the regulation of the Internet, the common asylum policy and the positioning the EU HR system in its international context.
Avancées et confins actuels des droits de l'homme aux niveaux international, européen et national
Mélanges offerts à Silvio Marcus Helmons Ed.
Reference: Bruxelles, Bruylant, 2003
Languages: French
Impressive collection of articles in the field of international and european human rights, as a tribute to the founder of the Center for Human Rights of the faculty of law of the Université Catholique de Louvain.
AccountAbility Quarterly
Reference: United Kingdom, AccountAbility
Languages: English
AccountAbility Quarterly is dedicated to providing insight in practise - the most up-to-date information on the practice and theory of social and ethical accounting, auditing and reporting worldwide.
Actualité et Droit International
Languages: French
E-journal of international news legal analysis. Articles (archive from 1998, quick search), chronicles and cases, discussions, international news, announcements. Useful links.
Business Ethics magazine
Reference: USA, Business Ethics
Languages: English
The mission of Business Ethics is to promote ethical business practices, to serve that growing community of professionals striving to work and invest in responsible ways.
Droits Fondamentaux
Reference: Paris,
Languages: French
First electronic journal in French on Fundamental Rights.
Ethical Corporation magazine
Reference: United Kingdom, Ethical Corporation
Languages: English
Ethical Corporation magazine is an independent business information provider and events producer on the issues in and around corporate social, financial and environmental responsibility.
Social Agenda
Reference: Brussels, Belgium, European Commission Employment and Social Affairs
Contact: E-mail:
Languages: English French German
Social Agenda centres around the key message that economic, employment and social policies be geared to mutually reinforce each other, with the focus on more and better jobs and greater social cohesion.
Human Rights Actors
AccountAbility (AA) Type:International or Regional Organization
AccountAbility is an international, not-for-profit, professional institute dedicated to the promotion of social, ethical and overall organizational accountability, a precondition for achieving sustainable development.
Article 13 () Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
Organization adressed to companies offering wide range of services to "unlock the innovation opportunities of corporate social responsibility"
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre () Type:Research / Education
Charity promoting greater awareness and informed discussion of important policy issues - Business and Human Rights.
Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
Global nonprofit organization that helps member companies achieve success in ways that respect ethical values, people, communities and the environment. BSR provides information, tools, training and advisory service in order to promote CSR.
Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs - Human Rights Initiative () Type:Research / Education
The Human Rights Initiative is a multi year research and dialogue project of the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs. It aims to provide critical perspective of what happens when human rights confronts realities on the ground.
Centre for Citizenship and Human Rights (CCHR) Type:Research / Education
A forum providing research, education and consultancy for policy makers, academics and advocacy groups. Members of the Centre are engaged in research principally within the areas of civil society, citizenship and community.
Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
Campaign to improve working conditions in the garment industry by distributing information, publicate researches and organising different forms of education and actions.
Corporate Social Responsibility Europe (CSR Europe) Type:Network
CSR Europe is a business-driven membership network with the mission to help companies achieve profitability, sustainable growth and human progress by placing corporate social responsibility in the mainstream of business practice.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Type:United Nations System
Mandate: to raise levels of nutrition and standards of living, to improve agricultural productivity, and to better the condition of rural populations. Works against poverty and hunger by promoting agricultural development, improved nutrition, etc.
ILO - World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization () Type:United Nations System
Top-level commission comprising Presidents, politicians, academics, social experts and a Nobel Economics laureate which, for the first time, will address the social dimension of globalization.
Institute of Business Ethics (IBE) Type:Research / Education
Organization to encourage high standards of corporate and business behaviour and the sharing of best practice. Its work is based on a programme of research, publications and events covering national and international issues of business conduct
Institute of Social Studies (ISS) Type:Research / Education
An international centre of social science education and research. Post-graduate education in development studies for mid-career professionals - Relationship between human rights, social justice and development strategies - Economic and Social Change.
International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) Type:Research / Education
Mission: to improve the lives of women in poverty, advance women's equality and human rights, and contribute to the broader economic and social well-being. Research, capacity building, and advocacy activities in low- and middle-income countries.
International Council on Human Rights Policy () Type:Research / Education
Conducts applied policy research on issues that face organisations working in the field of human rights. The approach is international, multidisciplinary and consultative. The aim is to produce work of practical relevance.
International Federation of Human Righs (FIDH) Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
Bringing together 115 human rights organisations from 90 countries, the FIDH is a non-political, non-sectarian, non-profit organization working to advance the implementation of all the rights defined by the UDHR and other international instruments.
Rights & Democracy (International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development) () Type:Other
An independent Canadian institution with an international mandate to promote, advocate and defend democratic and human rights. Four thematic priorities: democratic development, women's rights, the rights of indigenous peoples, globalization and HR.
Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the human rights of migrants () Type:United Nations System
Mandate established in 1999, by E/CN.4/RES/1999/44 of 26 April 1999.
Special Rapporteur on the right to food () Type:United Nations System
Seeks, receives and responds to information on all aspects of the realization of the right to food - Establishes cooperation with Governments, intergovernmental organisations and NGOs - Identifies emerging issues related to the right to food.
The Aspen Institute () Type:International or Regional Organization
The Aspen Institute is dedicated to informed dialogue and inquiry on issues of global concern. Founded in 1950, it has pursued its mission of fostering enlightened leadership through seminars, policy studies and fellowship programs.
The Copenhagen Centre (TCC) Type:Research / Education
The core tasks of TCC are to conduct surveys, organise and facilitate networks, establish an interactive knowledge centre, publish reports, notes and newsletters, organise and facilitate international seminars, and to support international networking
World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
Coalition of 165 international companies united by a shared commitment to sustainable development via the three pillars of economic growth, ecological balance and social progress.