Human Rights, Business and Gender

Course Level

intermediate - advanced / 3rd - 4th year

Course Language


Course Type and Contact Hours

Lecture / 2 hrs per week


5 (if course has been attended regularly and exam has been passed)


This course will be held at irregular intervals, rather in the summer term than in the winter term. It will be available in the summer term 2019.

Time Schedule and Course Venue

An up-to-date electronic course catalogue will be available for the summer semester from late February to mid-August on the website Please select "Fachbereiche" - "Rechtswissenschaft" - "Staatsexamensstudiengang" and "Rechtswissenschaft (SPO 2015)" in order to access the Law courses.

Course Description

An increasingly globalised world has resulted in hundreds of thousands of business actors conducting business across national borders. In many well-documented instances, such as Rana Plaza, Blackwater and Shell in Nigeria, business actors have been accused of violating international human rights standards which traditionally have not applied to them as non-State actors. Weak, non-existent and fragmented legal frameworks have contributed to the regulatory gaps and in many cases it is the most vulnerable communities and members of society that suffer adverse human rights impacts, with women affected particularly. Human rights impacts have occurred across every sector and industry, from textile production to natural resource exploitation, pharmaceuticals to private military and security contractors. The nature of global business has important implications for any attempt to regulate the behaviour of business actors in relation to human rights as national law, public international law and private international law are all engaged yet no single legal framework exists to hold business actors accountable for human rights violations.

In this course we will examine contemporary national and international regulatory attempts to hold business actors accountable for human rights abuses with a focus on case studies which highlight gender issues.


  • the rising power of transnational business and the retreat of the State within the context of globalisation;
  • theories around the social responsibility of business actors;
  • gender issues;
  • business and human rights accountability and responsibility gaps at the national and international levels.


  • international attempts to regulate the behaviour of business actors in relation to human rights e.g. UN, OECD, EU;
  • the role of States, Inter-Governmental Organisations (IGOs), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and industry in the development of regulatory mechanisms;
  • Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights which were adopted unanimously by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011 and which have become the key international standard on business and human rights;
  • due diligence, supply chains, human rights risk analysis and impact assessments and remedies;
  • National Action Plans (NAPs);
  • the case for a treaty on business and human rights.

Case Studies:

  • private military and security industry;
  • extractive industry;
  • garment industry.

Restricted Enrollment

no (that means that everyone who signs up for this course in time can take part in this course)

Course Registration

via Campus Management

Please sign up for this course under the module "Study Program Themis & Overseas - Module 13".

registration period: 1 - 26 April 2019

De-Registration from this Course

via Campus Management

regular drop period: 1 - 26 April 2019

After the regular drop period you can only drop this course with a valid cause until 14 days prior to the exam. Please contact the International Office at the Law Department if you have to use this option.

Type of Exam

There will be a written final examination.

Exam Period

The exam will probably take place in the last week of the lecture period. → Academic Calendar

Registration for the Exam

Students will automatically be registered for the exam when they sign up for this course.

De-Registration from the Exam

Students who drop this course via Campus Management are automatically de-registered from the exam. Students who do not drop this course via Campus Management and do not take the exam, are going to finish this course with a non-passing grade (0 points).

Grade Release

via Campus Management