International Human Rights

Wednesday08:00 - 9:45KOL-E-21

Additional and more detailed references to literature are listed in the pdf-version of the syllabus.

Course syllabus (Autumn Term 2011) (PDF, 56 KB)




Foundations and history of human rights

General concept of human rights

  • From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) an dthe International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
  • Overview of the key features of the ICCPR and the ICESCR
  • Relationship between the UDHR and the ICCP

Economic, social and cultural rights

The ICESCR; respect, protect and fulfil

  • Origin and legal foundations of economic and social rights
  • Key features
  • Differences and relationship between the ICCPR and the ICESCR
  • The problem of resources
  • Obligations to respect, protect and fulfil
  • The issue of justiciability
  • Poverty as a violation of (which?) human rights?


Economic, social and cultural rights - Part II

Further reading materials:

in particular Goal 1 (pages 6 to 15)


Non-state Actors and Human Rights

  • Overview
  • Non-state actors and globalization, privatization and trade liberalization
  • Legal framework
  • Corporate responsibility and the move towards accountability
  • Status of multinational enterprises (MNEs) in international law
  • Regulatory approaches

The responsibility of MNEs: new approaches within the UN

Draft norms on the responsibility of transnational corporations and other business enterprises with regard to human rights

Appointment of Special Representative J. Ruggie

  • Framework: protect, respect and remedy
  • Recent developments: adoption of the Guiding Principles


Unfortunately, this week's lecture will not take place due to illness.



Implementing the Ruggie Framework takes different shapes: OECD and IFC

  • Overview of the OECD's mandate and work; OECD Declaration on international investment and multinational enterprises
  • Principles and standards for responsible business conduct
  • Recent developments: Update of the OECD Guidelines for multinational enterprises
  • Application of the guidelines to human rights and supply chains (investment nexus and sphere of influence; due diligence)

IFC Sustainability Framework

  • Overview of the IFC mandate and work
  • Recent developments: Update of the IFC Sustainability Framework


    Monitoring human rights compliance: different methods of monitoring

    • The relationship between different sets of human rights
    • The role of UN institutions, especially the Human Rights Council in observing the member states‘ adherence to the rights under the ICCPR
    • Overseeing the implementation of the rights provided by the ICESCR and new perspectives under the optional protocol

    Text 1 (see above)

    Further reading materials:



    Case study with Ron Popper, Head of Corporate Responsibility, ABB

    Attention: class starts at 10:15 h and will take place in room KOL-G-221.


    Human rights: responsibility of MNEs in national law

    • General trends
    • Recent developments

    The (future) role of the OECD National Contact Points

    Background reading material on NCPs:

    for 7.12.2011:

    (p. 21 onwards)

    further background material:


    Human rights: responsibility of MNEs in national law

    • General trends
    • Recent developments




    Concluding session: details will be announced in class

    New developments Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum (Shell):