Extrajudicial Complaints: Striking a Balance between Business and Human Rights Interests?

About the Project

Human Rights are more important than corporate profits. As self-evident as this statement may seem, it does not always reflect reality. Actually, balancing human rights and business interests can be problematic. What mechanisms allow for resolving such a conflict in the best interest of all parties concerned?

The international human rights system is traditionally state-based. It provides legal remedies for conflict resolution. However, these are usually lengthy, complex and often unsatisfactory. Consequently, there exists a gap in legal protection or redress for victims of corporate human rights violations. Extrajudicial complaint mechanisms can provide an alternative to legal action. In a project started in January 2013, nine such instruments will be assessed including those of the World Bank, a well-known manufacturer of sports equipment and the Fair Labor Association.

The project aims at informing companies and those affected by their operations about the effectiveness of these tools. It will help to raise awareness among victims with regard to access to justice as well as the costs and conditions of these mechanisms. Companies have the opportunity to know more about alternative dispute resolution and to exchange best practices in peer group events. Moreover, guidelines will demonstrate ways how to set up an internal complaint mechanism.

Based on the current state of the business and human rights debate, the project will build on the UN framework “Protect, Respect and Remedy” by John Ruggie. Thus, its findings will provide an innovative and important contribution regarding both the further regulation of corporate conduct and the improvement of extrajudicial means of legal protection for victims.

a. Image from International Labour Organisation: https://www.ilo.org/

Project Data

Country: Austria, France & USA
Persons involved: Karin Lukas (project leader), Barbara Linder, Claudia Sprenger
Contact persons: Karin Lukas
Lead Organisation: Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Fundamental and Human Rights (LBI-GMR)
Project start: 01/2013
Project end: 03/2016
Project completed: Yes
Funded by: Austrian Science Fund (FWF)
Programme Line LBI-GMR: Sustainability, Development, Business, Social