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OHCHR programme of work to enhance accountability and access to remedy in cases of business involvement in human rights abuses


Overview of projects

As part of its ongoing work to contribute to enhancing accountability and access to remedy in cases of human rights abuses involving business, OHCHR has launched a programme of work comprising six distinct, but interrelated projects. These projects have been selected for their strategic value and potential to enhance accountability and access to remedy from a practical, victim-centred perspective within a relatively short time frame.

The six projects that have been selected are:

Project 1:  Domestic law tests for corporate accountability
This project will clarify how different domestic legal systems attribute and assess corporate legal liability for gross human rights abuses. It will aim to develop "good practice" guidance for States in relation to the factors to take into account in the assessment of corporate liability in cases of alleged business involvement in gross human rights abuses.

Project 2: Roles and responsibilities of interested States
This project will explore State practices and attitudes with respect to the appropriate use of extraterritorial jurisdiction and domestic measures with extraterritorial implications.

The project will also consider the different ways in which international cooperation (at both diplomatic and operational levels) can improve the ability of victims to a c cess justice in the state where the abuses are alleged to have occurred.   It will result in “good practice” guidance for States in relation the management of cross-border cases and explore possible models of international and bilateral cooperation.

Project 3: Overcoming financial obstacles to legal claims
This project will survey current State practices and various ‘packages’ of measures that can be used to assist financially disadvantaged claimants in bringing claims relating to corporate human rights abuses. It will result in guidance on ‘minimum steps’ and ‘good practice options’ for States.

Project 4: Criminal sanctions
This project will survey current and emerging State practice in relation to criminal sanctioning of corporations for serious human rights abuses and identify ‘good practice models’ for States, taking into account innovations from other areas of criminal law.

Project 5: Civil law remedies
This project will survey current and emerging State practice in relation to civil law (tort law) damages in cases of serious corporate human rights harm, explore the role of domestic judicial mechanisms in relation to supervision and implementation of settlements and awards, and identify possible ‘good practice models’ for States, taking into account innovations from other areas of private law.

Project 6: Practices and policies of domestic prosecution bodies
This project aims to investigate the reasons behind the apparently very low levels of activity by domestic criminal law enforcement agencies in relation to alleged business involvement in gross human rights abuses. It will seek to identify challenges faced by domestic prosecutors in such cases, and to develop a set of recommendations for States on ways to begin addressing those challenges.

The outcomes of the six projects will result in credible, workable guidance and recommendations to States, including a package of ‘good practices’ designed to take into account different legal systems, cultures, traditions and levels of economic development.

In order to maximize resources, OHCHR will lead a process combining global and focused information-gathering and project-specific analysis and consultation. Each project has its own dedicated process; however, for five of the six work streams, an “Open Process” (global) and a “Detailed Comparative Process” (concentrating on 20 ‘focus jurisdictions’) will be used to elicit information, as described in the programme of work.

For more information on this initiative and to see how you can get involved, see: http://www.ohchr,org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/OHCHRstudyondomesticlawremedies.aspx or contact:
business-access2remedy@ohchr.org
.