Corporate actors, environmental harms and the Draft UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights: History in the making?

Jacques Hartmann, Annalisa Savaresi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human rights-based complaints against corporate actors for environmental harms are on the rise globally and across multiple jurisdictions. These complaints must be viewed in the context of broader efforts to bridge the enforcement and accountability gaps that plague environmental law, both at the national[1] and at the international[2] level. This article considers the implications of the ongoing United Nations (UN) negotiations on a Legally Binding Instrument to Regulate the Activities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises in remedying corporate environmental harms. First, we take stock of the judicial practice concerning corporate human rights abuses associated with environmental harms, including the emerging praxis of climate change litigation against corporations. Second, we draw lessons from this praxis to highlight gaps in the law and the role that the ongoing UN treaty negotiations might play in bridging these. Specifically, we consider whether and how a new treaty lends itself to address the multifaceted and complex enforcement and remedial questions associated with environmental harms caused by corporate actors. Third, we reflect on the ongoing law-making process concerning corporate due diligence in the EU and how the approach adopted in that context compares to that of UN treaty negotiations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27
Number of pages46
JournalQuestions of International Law
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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