Reimagining Human Rights Law: Toward Global Regulation of Transnational Corporations
Rachel J. Anderson
University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law
December 21, 2010
Denver University Law Review, Vol. 88, p. 183, 2010
UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper
Existing human rights law, the body of law that delineates the contours of legal protections for human rights, does not do enough to prevent or provide remedies for corporate-related human rights abuses. Transnational corporations are generally excluded from direct responsibility under international human rights law. The state-centered nature of modern human rights law is inconsistent with the actual power and influence of many transnational corporations. Current human rights law has been conflated with international human rights law and so looks almost exclusively to states to create laws to protect human rights and mechanisms to enforce those laws. However, many modern transnational corporations have achieved a level of power, wealth, and influence that rivals that of states. Failure to regulate the power, wealth, and influence of transnational corporations is a weakness in human rights law that should be remedied.
This article takes a new look at a perennial question of human rights: how to prevent corporate-related human rights abuses and provide remedies for victims. It argues that transnational corporations require specialized and targeted regulations and laws, and that the conflation of human rights law and international human rights law should be reversed to allow the advancement of other forms of human rights law. It makes two proposals. First, reimagine human rights law and international human rights law as separate categories. Specifically, classify international human rights law as a sub-category of human rights law. This distinction highlights the need to encourage the development of other forms of human rights law, for example, global human rights law and national human rights law. Second, establish global human rights law as a sub-category of human rights law and create a new global human rights regime with three main elements: a Global Law Commission, global laws and regulations, and universal civil jurisdiction.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 55
Keywords: human rights, global law, transnational corporations, universal civil jurisdiction, Global Law Commission, Global Corporate Citizenship
JEL Classification: A13, F01, F02Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: December 23, 2010 ; Last revised: July 20, 2011
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