HREDD: The new normal for corporate responsibility

Anna Triponel

February 4, 2022
Our key takeaway: 2021 marked the anniversary of the UN’s endorsement of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, sparking a reckoning across sectors of the progress we’ve made—and how much farther we still have to go. What’s clear is that soft BHR law is on the move, especially in Europe: it’s crystallising into hard law, colliding with other legal regimes governing companies and financial institutions, and melding with frameworks on environmental, climate change and gender. Companies and investors that are not actively preparing for this evolution by putting in place robust human rights and environmental due diligence will quickly find themselves playing catch-up.

If you didn’t have the chance to listen in on “Business and Human Rights Developments in Europe: Connecting the Dots,” last year’s suite of webinars hosted by the NOVA Centre on Business, Human Rights and the Environment (BHRE), then you’re in luck: NOVA BHRE has released an edited compendium of blogs based on speakers’ presentations. (You can also listen to recordings of the webinars, including the impactful keynote speech by John Ruggie, on NOVA BHRE’s YouTube channel.)

We encourage you to look through the full compendium, which captures the emerging trends and complexities around corporate due diligence in light of legislative developments across Europe. But if you’re strapped for time, below is an overview of what you can find in the compilation, and where:

On Corporate Due Diligence and Civil Liability:

  • Introductory speech – Portuguese Secretary of State for Internationalisation, Eurico Brilhante Dias (p. 8)
  • Keynote speech – Professor John Ruggie (p. 10)
  • The importance of civil liability for a corporate human rights duty – Lise Smit, Senior Research Fellow at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (p. 13)
  • The relationship between due diligence and civil liability in legislation – Nicolas Bueno, Professor of International and European Law at UniDistance Suisse (p. 16)
  • A rights-holders perspective – Freya Dinshaw, Senior Lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre (p. 18)
  • Some practical insights from the French experience – Christian Dargham, head of the disputes department at Norton Rose Fulbright, and Solène Sfoggia, Associate at Norton Rose Fulbright (p. 21)
  • Corporate responsibility to respect human rights vis-à-vis legal duty of care – Filip Gregor, Head of the Responsible Companies at Frank Bold and member of the Czech OECD National Contact Point (p. 23)
  • Comments and responses from multi-stakeholders – Lucie Chatelain, Advocacy and Litigation Officer-Globalization and Human Rights at Sherpa; Christian Ewert, President of Amfori; and Christopher Patz, Policy Officer at the European Coalition for Corporate Justice (starting p. 26)

On Corporate Due Diligence and International Law

  • Some considerations from an access to remedy perspective – Claire Bright, Associate Professor in Private Law and Director of the Nova Centre on Business, Human Rights and the Environment (p. 37)
  • Change for change’s sake? A succinct primer on the European Parliament’s proposal to amend Brussels IA with a view to boosting corporate due diligence – Geert van Calster, independent legal practitioner at the Belgian Bar (p. 42)
  • Business and human rights – good administration of justice through jurisdiction and applicable law – Catherine Kessedjian, Professor Emerita of the University Panthéon-Assas Paris II (p. 45)
  • Remarks on the proposed amendments to Rome II regulation and the applicable law to the business-related human rights claims – Angelica Bonfanti, Associate Professor in International Law at the Law Faculty of the University of Milan (p. 48)
  • Observations on the proposed Article 6A on the law applicable to business-related human rights claims – Eduardo Álvarez-Armas, Lecturer in Law at Brunel University London and Collaborateur Scientifique at the Université Catholique de Louvain (p. 50)
  • Observations on the private international issues in the Shell case – Chukwuma Okoli, a Postdoctoral Researcher in Private International Law at the T.M.C. Asser Institute (p. 54)
  • Corporate due diligence in the supply chain and in group of companies: Some considerations on issues of substantive law – Marc-Philippe Weller, Vice-Rector for International Affairs and Director of the Institute for Comparative Law, Conflict of Laws and International Business law at Heidelberg University/Germany (p. 56)

On Corporate Due Diligence in Contract and Company Law

  • Keynote speech – Portuguese Secretary of State for Commerce, Services and Consumer Protection, João Torres (p. 64)
  • The relevance of the history and nature of company law in the context of human rights and the environment – Stephen Turner, Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Essex (p. 66)
  • Corporate law as a barrier to human rights claims and the promise of mHREDD laws – Rachel Chambers, Postdoctoral Research Associate in Business and Human Rights at the University of Connecticut and Co-Director of the Teaching Business and Human Rights Forum (p. 69)
  • Contracting for human rights and corporate due diligence: Using the ABA Working Group’s model contract clauses 2.0 – Sarah Dadush, Professor of Law at Rutgers Law School, the State University of New Jersey (p. 73)
  • Sustainability and the contractual organization of production – Jaakko Salminen, Assistant Professor at Copenhagen Business School, docent in civil law at the Faculties of Law of the Universities of Turku and Helsinki, and principal investigator of the LEXSECURE consortium (p. 77)
  • Company law: the corporate board and mandatory sustainability due diligence – Beate Sjåfjell, Professor at the University of Oslo, Faculty of Law, Adjunct Professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Faculty of Economics and Management, and the head of the Oslo Faculty’s Research Group Companies, Markets and Sustainability (p. 81)
  • Corporate due diligence and directors duties? – Lécia Vicente, the Henry Plauché Dart Endowed Assistant Professor of Law at Louisiana State University’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center, and Associate of NOVA BHRE (p. 84)

On Corporate Due Diligence and the Green New Deal

  • The relationship between the upcoming EU-level initiatives on horizontal mHREDD and on forest-risk commodities – Delara Burkhardt, Member of the European Parliament (p. 92)
  • Corporate due diligence and climate change – Ivano Alogna, Arthur Watts Research Fellow in Environmental and Climate Change Law at the British Institute of international and Comparative Law (London) (p. 95)
  • Legislating for corporate due diligence, climate change and accountability – Arianne Griffith, Senior Campaigner on Corporate Accountability at Global Witness (p. 99)
  • Climate change: Looking beyond human rights due diligence? – Surya Deva, Associate Professor at the School of Law of City University of Hong Kong, and member and former Vice-chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights (p. 102)

On Corporate Due Diligence and Sustainable Finance

  • The legal implications of human rights and environmental due diligence for financial institutions – Robin Brooks, consultant and corporate finance lawyer (p. 108)
  • Sustainable finance challenges and opportunities – Rodrigo Tavares, Founder and President of the Granito Group (p. 113)
  • Taking stock of investor implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights – Paloma Muñoz Quick, Lead for finance and human rights, BSR (p. 116)
  • EU April 2021 package on sustainable finance: Green stewardship or ‘chronicles of a death foretold’? – Daria Davitti, Associate Professor (docent) at the Faculty of Law, Lund University, and Arınç Onat Kılıç, graduate of the International Human Rights Law master program at Lund University (p. 119)

On Corporate Due Diligence and Gender Equality

  • A plea for intersectional approaches – Nadia Bernaz, Associate Professor of Law at Wageningen University, and Visiting Professor at the Catholic University of Lille (p. 127)
  • Gender equality and business and human rights – Penelope Simons, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law (Common Law Section) at the University of Ottawa (p. 130)
  • Activists and advancing inclusive business cultures: Women working for change – Erika George, Director of the Tanner Humanities Center and the Samuel D. Thurman Professor of Law at the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah (p. 134)
  • Companies as drivers of positive changes to promote gender equality – Olena Uvarova, Associate Professor, Chair of the International Lab on Business and Human Rights at NLU (p. 138)

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