Business and human rights (BHR) scholarship examines the responsibility of businesses for abuses caused directly by them and their subsidiaries as well as for various forms of complicity in human rights abuses along their value chains.
Business and human rights (BHR) scholarship examines the responsibility of businesses for abuses caused directly by them and their subsidiaries as well as for various forms of complicity in human rights abuses along their value chains. In this seminar, I will first present the results of a literature review of the BHR literature, noting that scholarship in the field published to date has focused on justifying why businesses have human rights responsibilities and on descriptive research studies at the organizational and macro levels of analysis. The more pressing questions now, however, relate to understanding BHR is implemented and the outcomes of BHR-related actions by corporations. I will then turn to the case of human trafficking; to date, the response to human trafficking in business supply chains has been dominated by analyses of due diligence obligations. Existing scholarship, however, has cast doubt on the effectiveness of due diligence in addressing human trafficking, because human trafficking is the outcome of macro-level social structures that are created by and consist of multiple actors, including business. I will argue that a social connection and political responsibility model, based on Iris Marion Young’s analysis of social connection and structural injustice, better accounts for the ethical obligations of businesses with regard to human rights. I will conclude by discussing research opportunities in the BHR field, particularly those that cross disciplinary boundaries such as law and management.