Edie Hofmeister

Daisuke Takahashi

Business Human Rights Committee

The objective of the Business Human Rights (BHR) Committee is to create awareness amongst lawyers in all fields of practice, of business and human rights, corporate sustainability, and more broadly ESG (environmental, social and governance, eg, conflict minerals and modern slavery transparency) principles.

About the Committee

Business and human rights issues are not new; but there has been a paradigm shift in the understanding of and approaches to the ways in which business may impact on the human rights of individuals and groups (both positively and negatively), since the endorsement in 2011 of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). This global, authoritative standard provides guidance on governments' duty to protect against human rights harm and business' responsibility to respect human rights, as well as the importance of access to remedy. The UNGPs are increasingly reflected in new laws and regulations, and in business relationships.

These developments raise challenges and opportunities for lawyers, both as advisers to their clients and, in the case of law firms, as enterprises in their own right. The UNGPs' unique approach to due diligence and risk management bring a new perspective to all areas of legal practice, from mergers and acquisitions, to supply chain management, investment and finance, and more. They are relevant for all lawyers, whatever their area of specialisation, be it advisory, transactional, compliance, regulatory enforcement or dispute resolution.

Business and human rights is also a key component of strategies supporting corporate responsibility, ethical business, sustainability and good corporate governance more broadly. The Business Human Rights Committee aims to promote the development of legal skills required to advise clients and to support law firm management in these areas, and to facilitate education and dialogue among lawyers who practice in this emerging area of the law.

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.

Projects and reports

IBA Guidance for Legal Professionals on UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (October 2014)

The International Bar Association (IBA) Business and Human Rights Working Group has published a draft guidance for bar associations and business lawyers on the implementation of the United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (‘Guiding Principles’) – the first guidance of its kind since the UN Human Rights Council endorsement of the Guiding Principles in 2011.

Subcommittees and other groups

The Business Human Rights Committee also coordinates the activities of the following subcommittees/working groups.

  • Business Human Rights Committee Advisory Board


Lawyers as Leaders

The UN Global Compact and the IBA, supported by Lexis Nexis, have produced three modules for a video training series entitled Lawyers as Leaders: The Essential Role of Legal Counsel in the Corporate Sustainability Agenda.

Watch the business and human rights module

Find out more and watch modules on labour, anti-corruption and the environment

BHR films on company-community dispute resolution

With financial support from the IBA as well as the Government of Norway, the CAO of the World Bank Group, and the Government of Germany, the BHR Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School has produced three films about the mediated resolution of company-community disputes.

The films relate to disputes around a copper mine in Peru, an oil and gas operation in Nigeria, and a hydro-electric power project in the Philippines.

Watch the introductory film