Protecting human rights is both a duty of states and a responsibility of companies. Nevertheless, violations of human rights are common in the business sector. Such cases need to be addressed and remedy provided. However, on the path to justice those affected often face a number of obstacles, and tough questions need to be answered first:
Who caused the violation of human rights and is therefore liable to provide compensation? Which courts in which country have jurisdiction if a German company is involved in the violation of human rights abroad? How can an affected community in the Global South get justice before German courts? What obstacles lie between those affected (whether in Germany or abroad) and access to justice in Germany?
Some cases do not lend themselves to litigation and can be resolved in another way, e.g. through mediation proceedings. Policy-makers need to strengthen existing mechanisms, such as the National Contact Point pursuant to the guidelines of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and remove existing obstacles to access.
The German Institute for Human Rights is pushing at national, European and international level for improved access to justice for those affected by business-related violations of human rights. We participate in political processes within Germany, the EU, the Council of Europe and the United Nations and provide independent expert opinions in relevant cases before German and international courts.
Lissa Bettzieche, LL.M.
Senior Researcher and Policy Adviser
Project "National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights"
Phone: +49 30 259 359 – 123