22 MARCH [DAY 01] | ARBITRATION OF BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS DISPUTES
Current remedies for business-related human rights abuses such as trafficking in persons, child labor, violence against labor protestors, unsafe and unhealthy working conditions, land seizures, and multiple others are patchy, unpredictable, often ineffective and fragile. This fails both victims, who have little access to justice, and businesses, which often operate in environments of legal uncertainty and where participants are not competing on a level playing field.
Arbitration offers the possibility of a consent-based remedy to victims of human rights abuses when domestic courts are unavailable due to lack of capacity, lack of impartiality or jurisdictional obstacles. There have been growing discussions on the subject, however there are several key questions, such as, whether BHR disputes meet the "commercial relationship" requirements for International Arbitration. We seek to address such issues and create a discussion on it, involving lawyers, business professionals, academics and students.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the two subsequent International Covenants and the European Convention are foundational documents perceived to lay down the cornerstone provisions of what human rights are. These lists provided a map to navigate the problems of the time. Today’s context, however, is very different. As a result, these lists can no longer be viewed as sacred. They need re-evaluation for the future.
With the advent of technology and globalisation, human rights today is not the same what it used to be when UDHR and the other foundational documents were adopted. Today, advocacy is not enough and there is a needed shift towards monitoring and implementation. Human Rights must change to become tools which stimulate critical discussion and debate in the present, helping to carve a new vision for today’s future as opposed to continuing with that of the 20th century. Thought in such a way, human rights can emerge as not a thing of the past, but of the future.