2 March 2009, Berlin

Economy and Human Rights in Times of Globalization

2 March 2009, 12:00 am

Legal Responsibilities of corporations for human rights violations

In times of globalization, corporations increasingly operate transnationally. While  corporations continue to increase their share of market power, human rights violations and environmental degradation rise and multiply in production locations.  A problematic legal gap exists as to the scope of national laws, which is often restricted to the territories of particular states. Moreover, national laws in production locations are often deficiently implemented and weakly enforced. This all inevitably leads to the question of how to close this legal gap. This expert pannel aims to discuss and clarify the legal situation in Germany and to articulate potential solutions.

Important questions to be discussed:

What instruments does German law provide for?

-    Can certain human rights, labor rights and environmental standards provide benchmarks?
-    How can corporations be legally obliged to report about violations of human and labour rights in the production process? What about other duties of disclosure as well as information about the production process and production location? What is the relationship between the German Civil Code, the German Commercial Code, Competition law and Consumer law?
-    According to Civil Law, what are the liabilities for infringements of subsidiaries and suppliers? What does the law of torts in the German Civil Code state? What does corporate law say? What do industrial legislations provide for?
-    What does criminal law and environmental law provide for?
-    What is the role of European law?

There will be a special emphasis on: the implementation of legal provisions, the possibility of consumers and associations to appeal decisions, the possibility of affected groups in production locations to file complaints before German courts.


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