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Present-day circumstances pose profound new challenges to the effective protection and promotion of human rights. Traditionally the analysis of human rights is focused on the relation between the State and the individual. However, as a result of globalisation corporations at times have a more far-reaching impact than (some) States on the well-being of many citizens.
This raises questions regarding the responsibility and accountability of corporations in the field of human rights. This book contributes to answering the question if and to what extent corporations have human rights obligations and, if such obligations can be discerned, how these can be enforced. It is taken as a point of departure that the present human rights system, according to which primarily States bear obligations, is deficient. The examples of corporate influence on human rights that are discussed throughout this study show the need to rethink the traditional approach to human rights protection.
The study is divided into three parts: Part A addresses the conceptual issues underlying corporate human rights obligations.;The questions whether corporations can in fact have human rights obligations and if so, which obligations can be discerned, are answered. In Part B the question whether possible corporate human rights obligations can actually be enforced is examined. This analysis includes both instruments of hard law and of soft law. Finally, in Part C the author arrives at the conclusion that corporate human rights obligations can indeed be derived from international human rights law.