There is ample reportage to evidence the negative effects business activity of all types can have on the provision of human rights. Equally, there can be little doubt economic development, usually driven through business activity and trade, is necessary for any state to provide the institutions and infrastructure necessary to secure and provide human rights for their citizens. The United Nations and businesses recognise this tension and are collaborating to effect change in business behaviours through voluntary initiatives such as the Global Compact and John Ruggie’s Guiding Principles. Yet voluntary approaches are evidently failing to prevent human rights violations and there are few alternatives in law for affected communities to seek justice.
The Human Rights Consortium’s Corporate Power and Human Rights Project at the School of Advanced Study, University of London has been established to facilitate creative approaches to dissolving the tension between human rights and business activity. The project will act as a platform from which academics, activists, businesspeople and policymakers can transmit their ideas and engage their peers to robustly challenge their feasibility in order to develop meaningful alternatives to existing approaches. It will also look at the broad structural impacts of corporate power on economies and human rights provision.