Course Details

Business and Human Rights

This course examines compliance issues related to global operations of multinational corporations with focus on aspects of sustainability in the different areas of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), primarily human rights, but also labor issues, environment, and anti-corruption. The class draws the contours of corporate compliance with related legal standards in a comparative and transnational law fashion; requirements for overseas business operations in emerging markets are discussed under U.S. law, EU law, and international law. Beyond legal compliance and risk mitigation strategies, the course takes a business approach to corporate social responsibility compliance looking at market incentives (competitive advantage, new market-entry, sustainable value creation) for corporations to adapt their policies and business strategies accordingly. The class aims to give international corporate lawyers the tools to advise business clients identifying the risks and opportunities related to non-market aspects of global business and avoiding and mitigating claims of non-compliance. The class is also suited for business students familiarizing them with the regulatory landscape that global businesses are facing today in the realm of CSR, including legal risks and soft risks across different business functions of the firm, such as Enterprise Risk Management (ERM), compliance, and strategy. Students study relevant international legal and regional standards as well as applicable corporate, tort, and criminal laws in domestic legal systems as key markets; the role of the UN Global Compact Office, the International Labour Office, and the OECD; the legal personality of corporations and the nature of the firm; the scope of corporate responsibilities to respect, protect, and promote societal interests within the corporate "spheres of influence" and in line with fiduciary duties; complicity, agency, and joint venture liability; imputation of acts in the parent-subsidiary relationship and rules on `piercing of the corporate veil; extraterritorial tort and criminal liability litigation before domestic courts; corporate crime; jurisdictional issues pertaining to global business operations; soft rules and corporate self-regulation with reference to the multi-stakeholder and industry initiatives as well as corporate codes of conduct; corporate objectives under the law in light of the shareholder/stakeholder dichotomy across different legal systems; institutional compliance structures and monitoring as well as associated direct and indirect costs; management strategies integrating non-market aspects with contract law, risk assessments, and corporate governance structures; and `inclusive' business strategies combining commercial viability with positive social impact. The course uses a mix of prominent court cases and business case studies to illustrate the complex compliance challenges that multinational corporations face today in their worldwide operations and show potential solutions. Recent litigation against multinational corporations under the Alien Tort Statute is examined, as well as recent developments in select European jurisdictions. Briefly considered will be enforcement under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, relevant environmental regulations, and business best practices from different industry sectors. Guest speakers featuring leading experts in the legal, corporate, and U.N. field occasionally may appear by video conference in the classroom. Method of Evaluation: A one-draft 20-page paper. The paper can take the form of a normative research paper or a business case study. Law students may have the option of earning an additional .5 credit by writing a two- or three-draft 25 page paper. Consult with the professor if you seek to satisfy the academic writing requirement with the class. This option may be limited in case of high demand. Reading materials will be made available through Blackboard.

Catalog Number: CONPUB 707
Practice Areas: Business, Corporate,Trans AreaInternational Law Practice Area
Additional Course Information: 1 Draft degree req may be met with class, 3 draft degree req may be met with class, Consult Professor about writing requirements, IHR Elective (JDIHR & LLM-IHR)

Course History

Spring 2023
Title: Business and Human Rights
Faculty: Ryerson, Charity
Section: 1     Credits: 2.0
Capacity: 25     Actual: 19