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General / Thematic: Business and Human Rights: The Limits of the Law



Josiah Fajardo

All human beings are µfree and equal in dignity and rights’ and are entitled to these rights µwithout distinction of any kind’.[1] This has been the consensus of the global community at least since the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. For the past half-century, there has also been consensus that governments have a binding obligation to protect at least some of these rights,[2] and, where necessary, to change the law to do so,[3] accompanied by varying degrees of enforcement.[4]

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  1. Universal Declaration on Human Rights, GA Res 217A (III), UN GAOR, 3rd sess, 183rd plen mtg, UN Doc A/810 (10 December 1948) arts 1, 2.
  2. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, opened for signature 19 December 1966, 999 UNTS 171 (entered into force 23 March 1976) art 3 (‘ICCPR‘); International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, opened for signature 19 December 1966, 993 UNTS 3 (entered into force 3 January 1976) art 3 (‘ICESCR‘)
  3. ICCPR art 2(2); ICESCR art 2(1).
  4. See Open Society Justice Initiative, From Judgment to Justice: Implementing International and Regional Human Rights Decisions (Open Society Foundation, 2010) 118–21; cf Buhm-Suk Baek, ‘Economic Sanctions against Human Rights Violations’ [2008] Cornell Law School Inter University Graduate Student Conference Papers Paper 11, 21, 49–53 .