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Access to Judicial Remedies

BIICL Director, Prof Robert McCorquodale, has co-authored an important Report on The Third Pillar: Access to Judicial Remedies for Human Rights Violations by Transnational Business.

The Report shows that States are generally not fulfilling their obligation to ensure access to effective judicial remedies to victims of human rights violations by business operating outside their territory. The report title recognises the third pillar of the UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights, which calls for access to remedies, including judicial remedies, for violations of human rights linked to corporate activity. While the first two pillars of the Guiding Principles - the State duty to protect human rights and the corporate responsibility to respect human rights - have received relatively detailed consideration, the general consensus is that the third pillar has not received an adequate examination until this Report.

The Report identifies and analyses the barriers to judicial remedies faced by victims of human rights violations by business in some of the major industrialised states. It undertook this research by a detailed mapping exercise through an extensive questionnaire submitted to, and consultations with, a range of lawyers in relevant States. The Report covers the situation in Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, on the basis that the significant majority of transnational businesses are domiciled in these States. The Report found that victims continue to face barriers that at times can completely block their access to an effective judicial remedy in all of the States assessed. These barriers have been overcome in only some instances and, in those cases, usually as a result of innovative approaches adopted by lawyers, the patience of victims, and a willingness to engage by perceptive judges. The Report concludes that each State should examine the barriers to judicial remedies in their jurisdiction and consider the range of actions they can take to alleviate them. It offers both general and specific recommendations in this regard.

The Report was commissioned by a coalition of non-governmental organisations: the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR), the CORE Coalition, and the European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ). Professor McCorquodale co-authored the Report with Gwynne Skinner, Professor of International Human Rights Law at Willamette University, Olivier de Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, and with Andie Lambe, an independent consultant, providing relevant case studies. He was assisted within BIICL by Lara Blecher, Research Fellow.

The Report was launched at the 2nd Annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in December 2013.

Download the The Third Pillar report.

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