Prof. Markus Krajewski

The State Duty to Protect against Human Rights Violations through Transnational Business Activities

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights of 2011 suggest that states have a right, but no obligation to regulate extraterritorial business activities. However, the most recent general comment of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment No 24, stipulates that states also have a duty to protect against adverse human rights effects of companies domiciled in their territory. Such a duty could be based on the principle of neminem laedere and the universality of human rights.

The paper will fully explore this thesis and apply it in context of civil liability of companies for human rights violations. The paper will assess the legal practice in Germany, the UK and the US and argue that these first developments can be associated with a state duty to protect against human rights violations and negative impacts on human rights by multinational enterprises or within supply chains in a globalised world.