What binding rules does German law provide for corporations and their suppliers?

Where:  Haus der Demokratie und Menschenrechte (Robert-Havemann-Saal)
            Greifswalder Straße 4
            10405 Berlin

When:   March 2, 2009

Organizers: Forum Menschenrechte (Work Group: Economy and Human Rights), CorA, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), Supermarktinitiative

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.


09.30         Introduction, Dr. Franziska Humbert, Oxfam

09.45-10.15         Prof. Dr. Carsten Schäfer, University of  Mannheim
The implications of corporate law on the enforcement of corporate policies consistent with human rights.

10.30-11.00         Prof. Dr. Peter Derleder, University of Bremen
Sanctions under competition law for products that were produced with the help of human rights violations.

11.00 – 11.30         Break

11.30 – 12.00     PD Dr. Eva Kocher, University of Frankfurt
The potential of labour legislation to call corporations to account.

12.00-12.30         Dr. Miriam Saage-Maaß, ECCHR
German civil proceedings against corporations violating human rights abroad.

12.30-13.00         Olaf Dilling, Research Assistant at the University of Bremen
What lessons can be learned from German and European environmental law?

13.00-14.00         Break

14.00-16.00         Strategies for the Future, moderation: Dr. Katharina Spieß, Amnesty International
Do we need new regulations, or are existing regulations sufficient to call corporations to account?

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