Corporate Human Rights?

European Journal of International Law, Forthcoming

31 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2020

Date Written: October 8, 2020


Do corporations have human rights? This article addresses a to date rather understudied issue of the corporations and human rights debate: whether and to what extent corporations can be bearers of human rights, with a focus on the ECHR and ECtHR jurisprudence. In a nutshell, it argues that what subsequently will be called ‘the individualistic approach’, i.e. purporting that the corporate form itself cannot be bearer of human rights, counter-intuitively, leads to almost unfettered human rights entitlements of corporations. Thereby, this piece provides a critique of both established corporate law thinking as well as the dominant view in human rights scholarship. Instead, it is submitted that taking the corporate form seriously and granting it some entitlements to some extent under a functionalist theory emerges as the preferable approach – theoretically, doctrinally and practically. The article draws on ECtHR jurisprudence, general legal as well as corporate law theory and on comparative constitutional law in order to corroborate its argument.

Keywords: Corporations, Human Rights, Legal Theory, Corporate Law, ECHR, Comparative Constitutional Law

JEL Classification: K00; K22; K33

Suggested Citation

Kulick, Andreas, Corporate Human Rights? (October 8, 2020). European Journal of International Law, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Andreas Kulick (Contact Author)

University of Tuebingen ( email )

Wilhelmstr. 19
72074 Tuebingen, Baden Wuerttemberg 72074

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