Economic Globalisation and Human Rights

Economic globalisation has to be a fair globalisation. This means enabling the realisation of human rights and the protection of the environment.

For more than a decade, we have focused on business and human rights. Since 2016, RWI’s work has expanded to cover environment and human rights. Our goal is the integration of human rights considerations in economic decision-making and regulatory mechanisms for socially and environmentally responsible conduct in the global economy.

To achieve this goal, one must work in three interrelated areas:

• Human rights and business
• Human rights and the environment
• Human rights and development

What we do

As a human rights law institute, we seek to contribute to the development of governance and regulatory solutions that support sustainable and responsible economic decision-making and business conduct. This focus area, Economic Globalization and Human Rights, is about ensuring that economic decision-makers take human rights into account in all their decisions, and are held accountable for their actions.

The challenge is to make human rights laws real and useable in a wide array of economic and social contexts, which requires:

• Clear human rights standards that can be effectively integrated into economic and social policy and practice.
• Analytical tools that enable practitioners to use the standards effectively in day-to-day decision-making.
• Conceptual frameworks that can criticize current economic and development policy arrangements and also can point to a feasible way forward.

Our results

We have delivered a number of publications, training materials, capacity-building modules, and events on issues such as:

  • The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and other international and sectorial CSR instruments
  • Corporate human rights due diligence
  • Human rights approaches to environmental governance
  • The integration of human rights, environment and economic development in Asia
  • The regulation of transnational business operations
  • Collaborations with stakeholders from the private sector, government, human rights institutions and academics in high-risk countries and emerging markets in Asia and Africa

The situation

The liberalisation of trade and investment has resulted in a deeply integrated global economy. Some transnational companies today have bigger turnovers than some countries’ GDP's. In this context, norms have evolved and expectations on companies have grown. As a result of the evolving global economy, investment and finance brings threats and opportunities to human rights.

The threat is that ‘economic’ interests and forces become dominant and entrenched through new global rules and strong institutions while ‘social’ aspects are de-prioritised and backed by weak legal protections that are being further eroded by market forces.

International organizations such as the UN and EU continue to focus on the implementation of the UNGPs adopted in 2011. The UN machinery increasingly uses the UNGPs to require information from states on corporate accountability. The focus on remedies for victims has gathered steam through the efforts of the UN High Commissioner since 2014 backed by likeminded efforts in the Council of Europe. Discussions of a possible treaty on business and human rights have continued in the UN since 2014 with a focus on legal incentives and remedies. A rather slow follow up is happening through National Action Plans. A total of 13 has been adopted by early 2018 and more are in the making though there is a feeling of insufficient ambition.

The challenges

Victims of human rights abuses continue to seek justice abroad. Courts in home states increasingly use tort laws to establish a parent company’s wrongdoings. This trend corresponds to the decline in the use of the Alien Tort Claims Act following the Kiobel decision in 2013. Non-judicial remedies such as the mediation system of the OECD carry promise although they have inherent limitations and display wide variation among countries in terms of their effectiveness.

Free trade agreements contain a higher number of references to labour rights in so called ’social clauses’. However they are not backed by strong enforcement provisions.

There is growing empirical research done to see how they effective they can be under these circumstances. The EU appears to lead with its approach integrating trade and development although rhetoric does not always match implementation.

The international investment regime is in a period of adjustment. It is evolving under sustained criticism of dispute settlement provisions and the continued perception of imbalance between investors’ protection and societal and environmental considerations. There are significant reform efforts carried by the EU and UN agencies to rebalance the system.

Also notable is the evolution of production and distribution arrangements through increasingly fragmented and dispersed global value chains. That raises significant complexities for those promoting responsible business conduct, including lawmakers in developed countries. Their preferred regulatory strategy is transparency regulations. Public procurement laws as adopted in the EU offer contractual means to promote responsible practices in those businesses that bid in the vast governmental procurement market.

Shortcomings in CSR approaches

The CSR practices of businesses continue to evolve. There is increasing realization that individual corporate efforts and piecemeal approaches that do not target root causes of problems fall short. Tragedies like the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in 2013 reveal shortcomings in classical CSR approaches. The Bangladesh Accord marked an innovation in multistakeholder CSR arrangements and a possible model for other industries and countries. Such developments fuel interest in ‘beyond audit’ approaches to CSR.

The Global Deal initiated by Sweden in 2016 is a test case for gauging the maturity of CSR and the viability of ambitious CSR approaches in a globalized economy where both states and businesses compete fiercely.

The SDGs adopted in 2015 by the UN offer a comprehensive framework meant to integrate and synergize economic, environmental and societal development. The role of the private sector and multistakeholder partnerships is clearly spelled out, including by reference to the UNGPs.

They offer the chance to revitalize economic, social and cultural rights. Being indicator and data driven, the SDGs can complement the human rights system based on legal obligations and UN monitoring.

Social and environmental sustainability are increasingly being seen as two sides of the same coin. The challenge is to bridge the two policy domains of human rights and environmental protection. That will, on the one hand, safeguard the realization of human rights under threat from environmental degradation and, on the other hand, use legal human rights to improve the quality and equity of environmental policy-making.

Environmental harm interferes with the rights to life, health, food, water, housing and livelihoods. Freedom of expression, freedom of association and human rights principles such as non-discrimination, participation, rule of law and accountability are important measures to improve environmental sustainability.

There is a need for integrated solutions and collective action that create synergies between human rights and environmental sustainability, with a strong gender dimension.

Our experts

Radu Mares

Radu Mares

Acting Research Director, Associate Professor, Head of Economic Globalisation and Human Rights Thematic Area

Phone: + 46 46 222 12 43
E-mail: radu.mares@rwi.lu.se

Radu Mares is senior researcher at Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights. He has Doctor of Law (2006) and Associate Professor (Reader/Docent) (2012) degrees from the Faculty of Law, Lund University, Sweden.

He is specialised in the area of business and human rights, with a focus on multinational enterprises and global supply chains. His work combines transnational law, corporate governance and corporate social responsibility perspectives.

Mares has edited The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights – Foundations and Implementation (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2012) and authored The Dynamics of Corporate Social Responsibilities (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2008). He has written about the relation between law and self-regulation, on corporate responsibilities in the mining industry and supply chain contexts, and on regulatory aspects raised by the corporate ‘responsibility to respect’ human rights. Recent publications include ‘De-centring human rights from the international order of states The alignment and interaction of transnational policy channels’ (Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 2016) and ‘“Respect” human rights: Concept and convergence’ (Law, Business and Human Rights – Bridging the Gap, Bird, Cahoy, Prenkert (eds.), 2014).

Keywords: Corporate social responsibility (CSR), supply chain management, multistakeholder partnerships, transnational law, international economic law, regulatory theory, good governance.

Selected Publications


Malin Oud

Malin Oud

Head of Stockholm Office, Director of China Office, Head of Economic Globalisation and Human Rights Thematic Area

Phone: +46 (0)70 360 8702
E-mail: malin.oud@rwi.lu.se

CV

Malin Oud is head of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute’s Stockholm office and Team Leader, Economic Globalisation and Human Rights. She has more than 15 years’ experience of policy dialogue, development cooperation and engagement with the business sector on human rights. In 2011-2016, Malin Oud was the founder and managing director of Tracktwo, a consultancy specialised in sustainable development, corporate responsibility and human rights; and worked strategically and operationally with human rights due diligence, social impact assessments, evaluations, stakeholder dialogue, policy briefs, programme development  and training for companies, government authorities, academic institutions, and international organisations and NGOs. She was head of RWI’s Beijing Office from 2001 to 2009, and has worked as a consultant, programme manager and adviser to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Development Programme, the Global Business Initiative on Human Rights, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and the Institute for Human Rights and Business.

Malin Oud is Research Fellow at the Institute for Human Rights and Business, Member of The Swedish Society for International Affairs (the parent body of the Swedish Institute of International Affairs), Advisor at The Global Business Initiative on Human Rights, and Member of the Board of Directors of Sweden-China Trade Council, where she also serves as Chairperson of Sweden-China Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Business. She is a regular conference speaker, moderator, and commentator in Swedish media. She studied Chinese language, Chinese law and international human rights law in Lund, Kunming, and London, and has an MA in International Development from Melbourne University.

Keywords: business and human rights, human rights and development, China

Publications and research briefs for policy makers and corporate executives, including:

Business and Human Rights (forthcoming in 2017) in Handbook on Human Rights in China  (S Biddulph & J Rosenzweig eds), Handbooks of Research on Contemporary China Series, Edward Elgar Publishing

The Corporate Responsibility to Respect in China and Globally (2014)

New Citizens, Service Providers and Policy Entrepreneurs: The Role and Impact of Civil Society Organisations on Development and Reform in China (2014) Briefing paper for the Europe China Research and Advice Network

Sweden-China Dialogue on CSR Faces New Challenges (2012) Oxford Analytica policy brief

The Economic Globalisation and Human Rights team

Malin Oud

Malin Oud

Head of Stockholm Office, Director of China Office, Head of Economic Globalisation and Human Rights Thematic Area

Phone: +46 (0)70 360 8702
E-mail: malin.oud@rwi.lu.se

CV

Malin Oud is head of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute’s Stockholm office and Team Leader, Economic Globalisation and Human Rights. She has more than 15 years’ experience of policy dialogue, development cooperation and engagement with the business sector on human rights. In 2011-2016, Malin Oud was the founder and managing director of Tracktwo, a consultancy specialised in sustainable development, corporate responsibility and human rights; and worked strategically and operationally with human rights due diligence, social impact assessments, evaluations, stakeholder dialogue, policy briefs, programme development  and training for companies, government authorities, academic institutions, and international organisations and NGOs. She was head of RWI’s Beijing Office from 2001 to 2009, and has worked as a consultant, programme manager and adviser to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Development Programme, the Global Business Initiative on Human Rights, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and the Institute for Human Rights and Business.

Malin Oud is Research Fellow at the Institute for Human Rights and Business, Member of The Swedish Society for International Affairs (the parent body of the Swedish Institute of International Affairs), Advisor at The Global Business Initiative on Human Rights, and Member of the Board of Directors of Sweden-China Trade Council, where she also serves as Chairperson of Sweden-China Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Business. She is a regular conference speaker, moderator, and commentator in Swedish media. She studied Chinese language, Chinese law and international human rights law in Lund, Kunming, and London, and has an MA in International Development from Melbourne University.

Keywords: business and human rights, human rights and development, China

Publications and research briefs for policy makers and corporate executives, including:

Business and Human Rights (forthcoming in 2017) in Handbook on Human Rights in China  (S Biddulph & J Rosenzweig eds), Handbooks of Research on Contemporary China Series, Edward Elgar Publishing

The Corporate Responsibility to Respect in China and Globally (2014)

New Citizens, Service Providers and Policy Entrepreneurs: The Role and Impact of Civil Society Organisations on Development and Reform in China (2014) Briefing paper for the Europe China Research and Advice Network

Sweden-China Dialogue on CSR Faces New Challenges (2012) Oxford Analytica policy brief

Radu Mares

Radu Mares

Acting Research Director, Associate Professor, Head of Economic Globalisation and Human Rights Thematic Area

Phone: + 46 46 222 12 43
E-mail: radu.mares@rwi.lu.se

Radu Mares is senior researcher at Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights. He has Doctor of Law (2006) and Associate Professor (Reader/Docent) (2012) degrees from the Faculty of Law, Lund University, Sweden.

He is specialised in the area of business and human rights, with a focus on multinational enterprises and global supply chains. His work combines transnational law, corporate governance and corporate social responsibility perspectives.

Mares has edited The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights – Foundations and Implementation (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2012) and authored The Dynamics of Corporate Social Responsibilities (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2008). He has written about the relation between law and self-regulation, on corporate responsibilities in the mining industry and supply chain contexts, and on regulatory aspects raised by the corporate ‘responsibility to respect’ human rights. Recent publications include ‘De-centring human rights from the international order of states The alignment and interaction of transnational policy channels’ (Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 2016) and ‘“Respect” human rights: Concept and convergence’ (Law, Business and Human Rights – Bridging the Gap, Bird, Cahoy, Prenkert (eds.), 2014).

Keywords: Corporate social responsibility (CSR), supply chain management, multistakeholder partnerships, transnational law, international economic law, regulatory theory, good governance.

Selected Publications

Olga Bezbozhna

Olga Bezbozhna

Senior Programme Officer

Phone: +46 46 222 12 36
E-mail: olga.bezbozhna@rwi.lu.se

Olga holds a Master Degree in International Human Rights Law and Intellectual Property Law from Lund University and a LL.M from Ukraine. She has experience working with the OHCHR in Geneva, Switzerland, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute in London, and the Constitutional Court in Kyiv, Ukraine. Olga joined the Institute in 2014 and currently works with academic cooperation in Belarus.

Publications:

  • Bezbozhna O., Yakimovich E., Kandrichina I. ‘Gender component in university curricula’ in Gender equality in higher education system: ways and means of achievement, eds. Shadursky V., Lukina L., Unipack, Minsk (2016).
  • Master thesis ‘The Marrakesh Treaty for Persons with Visual Impairments: the intersection between copyright and human rights‘, Lund University (2014).
  • Bezbozhna O., Oliynik I. ‘Execution of the Constitutional Court’s decisions and liability for the failure to execute’, 5 Law of Ukraine Journal (2008).
  • Bezbozhna O., Oliynik I. ‘Establishment of the complaint to the Constitutional Court of Ukraine from Citizens’, 9 Business, Industry and Law Journal of Ukraine (2008).

Mark Gibney

Mark Gibney

Affiliated Professor

Phone: +46 46 222 12 42
E-mail: mark.gibney@rwi.lu.se

Mark Gibney is an RWI Affiliated Professor. He is also the Carol Belk Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina-Asheville. Gibney is the author or editor of 14 books, including most recently: The Handbook of Human Rights (edited volume with Anja Mihr) (Sage Publications, 2014); Watching Human Rights: The 101 Best Films (Paradigm, 2013) and Litigating Transnational Human Rights Obligations: Alternative Judgments (edited volume with Wouter Vandenhole) (Routledge, 2014).

Since 1984, Gibney has directed the Political Terror Scale (www.politicalterrorscale.org), which annually measures levels of physical integrity violations in more than 185 countries.  He is also one of the founders of the Extraterritorial Obligations (ETO) Consortium, which in 2011 produced the Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations of States in the area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (www.etoconsortium.org).

His webpage www.WatchingHumanRights.org is devoted to reviewing and analyzing human rights film.  Professor Gibney has been a longstanding member of the editorial board at Human Rights Quarterly, the Journal of Human Rights and the International Studies Journal (Iran).  Gibney is currently the Chair of the Academic Freedom Committee and past Chair of the Human Rights Section of the International Studies Association.

Maria Green

Maria Green

Visiting Professor

Phone: +46 46 222 11 89
E-mail: maria.green@rwi.lu.se

Maria Green’s work focuses on human rights and development, with an emphasis on economic, social and cultural rights and on practical implementation of human rights standards as part of development or anti-poverty policy and practice.  She also writes and teaches on issues relating to law, literature and human rights.

From 2003-2011 she taught at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management, where she was a member of the core faculty in the Graduate Programs on Sustainable International Development.   She came to Lund originally as the holder of the 2012-2013 Fulbright-Lund Distinguished Chair in International Human Rights.

Maria’s publications include “What We Talk About When We Talk About Indicators: Current Approaches to Human Rights Measurement” (Human Rights Quarterly, 2001), and, with Susan Randolph,  “Bringing Theory Into Practice: Operationalizing the Right to Development” (in The Right to Development in Practice: Studies for the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Declaration, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2013).  She has served as as a consultant for various UN agencies on projects relating to human rights and poverty or development.

Maria received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and her M.A. in Sanskrit and Indian Studies from Harvard University. In addition to her participation with RWI she has taught at the Lund University Faculty of Law, with courses in human rights and development and law and literature among other topics.

Olga Bezbozhna

Olga Bezbozhna

Senior Programme Officer

Phone: +46 46 222 12 36
E-mail: olga.bezbozhna@rwi.lu.se

Olga holds a Master Degree in International Human Rights Law and Intellectual Property Law from Lund University and a LL.M from Ukraine. She has experience working with the OHCHR in Geneva, Switzerland, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute in London, and the Constitutional Court in Kyiv, Ukraine. Olga joined the Institute in 2014 and currently works with academic cooperation in Belarus.

Publications:

  • Bezbozhna O., Yakimovich E., Kandrichina I. ‘Gender component in university curricula’ in Gender equality in higher education system: ways and means of achievement, eds. Shadursky V., Lukina L., Unipack, Minsk (2016).
  • Master thesis ‘The Marrakesh Treaty for Persons with Visual Impairments: the intersection between copyright and human rights‘, Lund University (2014).
  • Bezbozhna O., Oliynik I. ‘Execution of the Constitutional Court’s decisions and liability for the failure to execute’, 5 Law of Ukraine Journal (2008).
  • Bezbozhna O., Oliynik I. ‘Establishment of the complaint to the Constitutional Court of Ukraine from Citizens’, 9 Business, Industry and Law Journal of Ukraine (2008).

Mostafa Sen

Mostafa Sen

Programme Officer

Phone: (+855) 16 907 049
E-mail: mostafa.sen@rwi.lu.se 

Mostafa holds a Master degree in Human Rights Law from Pannasastra University of Cambodia in Phnom Penh. For the past 15 years Mostafa has coordinated programmes in the areas of human rights, democracy and sustainable development in Cambodia. He has focused particularly on civil society and human rights of women and has vast experience of coordinating and monitoring Sida-funded programmes. Previously, he worked for Forum SYd, GIZ, CAMP, EIYAC and OIYP.