Human rights are not only threatened and infringed upon by states, but as globalization progresses, transnational corporations exert greater economic and political power that can significantly alters peoples' everyday lives. Corporate Social Responsibility is a voluntary model of self-regulation adopted by many transnational corporations. It is difficult, however, to square such voluntary claims of corporate responsibility with the reality of the globalized economy of the 21st century.
Corporations, along with their subsidiaries and suppliers, are all too often involved in human rights violations abroad, whether through deliberate cooperation with violent regimes, through business policies focused only on profit, or through a sheer lack of due diligence on the part of management.
Victims of these violations rarely have access to the means necessary to take a lawsuit in the countries where the companies are based. Even if they were to get this far, enforcing any such judgments would be almost impossible.
ECCHR works to ensure that legal action is taken on human rights violations caused by corporate activity. Part of the objective of such action is to trigger political debate. What role do transnational corporations play in our globalized world? What laws do we need in order to hold companies accountable for human rights violations? In any proceedings we undertake, we look to the broader economic, social and political dimensions and attempt to subvert existing power relations through the use of innovative legal approaches.
Our cases are designed to provide legal recourse to victims of rights violations while also expanding and developing the scope of legal instruments. Both criminal and civil law provide for rules on the liability of managers for crimes and violations of due diligence obligations within corporations. These forms of liability can also be applied in cases of human rights violations committed by transnational corporations abroad.

Business and Human Rights at the ECCHR

Program Description (111.3 KiB)

European companies liable for subsidiaries: The KiK, Lahmeyer, Danzer and Nestlé cases

Policy Paper, Corporate Due Diligence_20150616.pdf (247.0 KiB)

Holding Companies Accountable - Lessons from transnational human rights litigation

The EU's Business: Report by Frank Bold, ECCJ, ECCHR, CORE and Sherpa

Improving Access to Justice in the EU for Victims of Corporate Abuse (580.3 KiB)

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