An article from Herbert Smith Freehills says that, over the last decade, the law on business and human rights has shifted considerably. Instruments calling on businesses to respect human rights have traditionally been understood as non-binding “soft” law, but are now being given teeth, resulting in businesses increasingly being held to account for actions which have adverse impacts on human rights. This (r)evolution of the law has gained momentum in recent years – in tribunal and court decisions, through grievance mechanisms and other non-traditional forums, in new investment agreements and in domestic legislation – and the trend looks likely to continue.
Businesses and their legal advisors must therefore be prepared to squarely address the growing universal tools and procedures for respecting human rights. This includes playing their part in ensuring that the victims of human rights abuses have access to a fair and fast remedy. The article explains the background and says that there has been a noticeable shift in the compass of the law on business and human rights. What has traditionally been seen as voluntary soft law is slowly becoming mandatory hard law. It says that ensuring respect for human rights has become a business imperative, and businesses and their legal advisors will need to be prepared to address this head-on.
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