Publications for Business Human Rights Committee

  • Subject
  • Year
The IBA ESG conference and the evolving role of lawyers in sustainability due diligence

In February 2024, the IBA hosted an Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) conference, presented by the IBA North American Regional Forum and the IBA Energy, Environment, Natural Resources and Infrastructure Law Section, which took place in New York City. The conference featured a variety of cutting-edge panel discussions on ESG, including a panel session on ‘Due diligence and ESG – identifying new requirements and key risks for clients’.

Released on May 7, 2024

New global norms on responsible AI beyond the EU: the G7 Hiroshima Process international guiding principles for developing advanced AI systems and its application in Japan

Through the rapid development of advanced AI systems, such as generative AI, however, the need for ensuring responsible AI has increased. In October 2023, the leaders of the Group of Seven (G7), chaired by Japan, agreed on the Hiroshima AI Process Comprehensive Policy Framework. The framework includes the adoption of the International Guiding Principles on AI and the International Code of Conduct for AI developers, based on the OECD’s report Towards a G7 Common Understanding on Generative AI.

Released on Jan 11, 2024

Updated OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises: implications for corporate disclosure and due diligence

The 2023 revision of the OECD’s newly renamed Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct reflects the significant social, environmental and technological developments that have transpired since the last update to the Guidelines in 2011. This article considers the key implications of the update for corporate disclosure and due diligence across the areas covered by the Guidelines, including human rights, labour rights, the environment, bribery and corruption, consumer interests and science, technology and innovation.

Released on Oct 4, 2023

Opinion: Rio Tinto and the Juukan Gorge incident: legal compliance – always necessary, rarely sufficient

When Rio Tinto blew up the ancient Juukan Gorge Caves in May 2020, it did not appear to break any state or federal laws. However, a thorough review of the Board’s report shows how the executive team failed to consider business and human rights legal frameworks that the company had adopted. When the law permits potential human rights and environmental harms, having the right people at the top and a robust integrated ESG programme can make the difference between good and bad corporate conduct.

Released on Jun 6, 2023

Opinion: shareholder activism is the latest partisan battleground

As shareholders increasingly take action to address environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues at public companies, a reactionary movement has mobilised to oppose their efforts. This anti-ESG movement promises to fight back against what it views as ‘woke capitalism’ and its positions attempt to make an ideological statement rather than effect change at companies. Though anti-ESG proposals and board contests have yet to gain significant traction in the corporate setting, increased politicisation of shareholder activism will likely result in heightened tensions during proxy seasons to come.

Released on Jun 5, 2023

OPINION: Corporate criminal liability as a tool for mandatory human rights/ESG due diligence and disclosure – a missed opportunity

This article examines how the introduction of corporate criminal liability for environmental, social and governance (ESG)-related breaches would lead to an enhanced mandatory human rights due diligence and disclosure regime.

Released on Jun 2, 2023

Norway and the right to information under human rights principles

The Norway Transparency Act, a mandatory human rights due diligence law that came into force last year, includes a right to information. While the right to information is considered a part of freedom of expression, the right has previously applied only to states. Its inclusion in the Norwegian law has led stakeholders in Norway, as well as non-governmental organisations, investors, unions and others outside of Norway, to use the law as a discovery tool to obtain specific insights into global company programmes and issue management, and how salient risks are being addressed. While we have not yet seen other national governments or the EU adopt a similar provision, it is certainly something to watch.

Released on May 24, 2023

Japan: launching an ESG grievance mechanisms platform and the role of lawyers

In 2022, the Japan Centre for Engagement and Remedy on Business and Human Rights (JaCER) was established to provide a platform of corporate grievance mechanisms for addressing ESG issues and human rights abuses. As of 2023, more than 20 Japanese major companies from various sectors participate in JaCER. This article explains why JaCER was established, how JaCER aims to increase the effectiveness of grievance mechanisms, and how lawyers can contribute to it.

Released on May 11, 2023

The role of ESG factors in shaping M&A deal value and reputation

This article discusses how environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors and human rights considerations are increasingly influencing mergers and acquisitions (M&A) deals worldwide, and the importance of an ESG focus on due diligence, integration and disclosure throughout the transaction process. The article explores: the impact of ESG and human rights factors on deal value and corporate reputation; the nature of ESG due diligence; incorporating ESG factors into M&A transaction documents; and best practices for ESG and human rights disclosure in M&A transactions.

Released on May 11, 2023

Mandatory human rights due diligence in Brazil

In line with international trends, the Business and Human Rights agenda in Brazil is advancing. The proposal of Bill of Law No 572 to the National Congress for the approval of a ‘National Framework on Human Rights and Business’ reignited the internal debate over the need for the legal obligations of business enterprises to respect human rights. Although there is room for improvement, this represents a bold step towards a legal system of integrity with respect to human rights, encompassing social, environment and climate perspectives.

Released on Jun 17, 2022

When national laws and international standards are at odds: human rights responsibilities of social media platforms under Turkey’s new internet law

This article explores the risks that Turkey’s newly amended internet law poses to freedom of speech and possible mitigation strategies for social media companies, while placing the new legislation within the broader context of internet regulation in Turkey.

Transnational business and human rights developments in courts and legislatures

This contribution gives a summary analysis of the latest court cases on parent companies’ duty of care toward victims of alleged human rights violations, the United Kingdom Supreme Court case of Okpabi v Shell, and the issue of transnational corporate aiding and abetting in the latest United States Supreme Court alien tort statute case of Nestlé v Doe.

Lessons from past approaches towards human rights and corruption point to pursuing them together in future

This article highlights the links between the anti-corruption and human rights, and advocates for a mutual reinforcement of efforts to achieve robust and coherent legal obligations for companies that prevent both corruption and human rights violations.

Legislative developments on human rights due diligence

This article provides a short overview of two latest developments in human rights due diligence: the draft due diligence act for supply chain in Germany and the bill for responsible and sustainable international business conduct in the Netherlands.

First glance at the EU’s corporate due diligence and accountability framework

The proposed EU Directive on Corporate Due Diligence and Corporate Accountability is a step in the right direction, but its strengths need to be emphasised and there are some issues that have to be resolved, in the view of this article’s author.

Business and human rights under India’s new labour codes

This article explores whether new Indian labour codes have any meaningful impact on human rights and protections of workers. The authors assess the treatment of key business and human rights (BHR) components under the codes, as well as their success in narrowing the gap between corporate governance and business human rights strategy.

Legal advisers and the transition to a sustainable economy

One of the many lessons of 2020 will be that a sustainable and inclusive economy – that promotes positive, long-term economic, environmental and social outcomes – requires cooperation, engagement and innovation from all stakeholders. Legal advisers have an important role to play in this economic transition by supporting business decision making to consider longer-term time horizons and the spectrum of environment, social and governance (ESG) issues holistically.

What would the business and human rights approach of a Biden administration look like?

This article considers how business and human rights could be tackled by US presidential candidate Joe Biden if he is elected to office. Specifically, this article focuses on four areas that could impact multinational corporations.

Japan: promoting the respect of human rights by business during the Covid-19 crisis

This article recalls the experience of the Business and Human Rights Lawyers Network in producing a research report on the impact of Covid-19 and guidance for Japanese business, and describes certain challenges that lie ahead for the implementation of this framework in Japan by the government and by companies.

An opinion on the core elements of the proposed EU mHREDD legislation

This article summarises an opinion delivered by Robert McCorquodale and Martijn Scheltema on the core elements of the EU legislation on mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence, in light of announcements on upcoming legislation in this area.

The time has come for a legislative movement for BIC companies in Latin America

This article comments on efforts made in Latin America to advance legislation for benefit and collective interest companies since 2012.

Lawyers who lead: prioritising empathy in a time of global crisis

An interview with business and human rights lawyer, Stéphane Brabant, by Edie Hofmeister.

Upcoming events of the IBA Business Human Rights Committee

Upcoming events of the IBA Business Human Rights Committee.

IBA Business Human Rights Committee eBulletin: message from the Vice-Chair and Newsletter Officer

A message from Edie Hofmeister and María Angélica Burgos.