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International Comparative Law

Law: Human Rights & Corporate Social Responsibility

After an introduction to the basics of Human Rights, this course will discuss their importance on various continents. You will learn about the historical roots of different declarations and notions of Human Rights.

The second week will focus on corporate social responsibility and how it is implemented in different regions. You will hear about cultural and religious influences as well as new concepts of corporate social responsibility. 

Week 1 - Human Rights

1) Human rights in Europe (Monday, 1 July 2019)
Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Olivier Dubos
Université de Bordeaux, France

The protection of fundamental rights in the Member States of the European Union is based on the national constitutions, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the Union and the European Convention on Human Rights. These three guarantee schemes are both complementary and competitive. While it is primarily the responsibility of the Constitution and more generally of national legal systems to protect human rights, the existence of the European Court of Human Rights, which is a subsidiary protection mechanism, testifies the need to complement national mechanisms with international mechanisms. But the fact that the States are members of the European Union complicates this scheme. The European Union is a federal political entity and therefore has a duty to respect human rights. It must ensure that they are respected by its institutions, but also by its Member States, at least when they act within the scope of Union law. There is also the question of the Union's accession to the European Convention on Human Rights.

2) Human rights in Africa (Tuesday, 2 July 2019) 
Lecturer: Bahame Tom Nyanduga

This Statute shall apply equally to all persons without any distinction based on official capacity. In particular, official capacity as a Head of State or Government, a member of a Government or parliament, an elected representative or a government official shall in no case exempt a person from criminal responsibility under this Statute, nor shall it, in and of itself, constitute a ground for reduction of sentence.
Rome Statute, 1998

No charges shall be commenced or continued before the Court against any serving AU Head of State or Government, or anybody acting or entitled to act in such capacity, or other senior state officials based on their functions, during their tenure of office.
Malabo Protocol, 2014

The following topics will be discussed in this class:

I. The Basics of Human Rights in Context
II. Human Rights in Pre-colonial Africa
III. Human Rights During Colonialism
IV. Human Rights in Post-Colonial Africa

(a). Massive Violations of Human Rights – Reasons and Solution
(b). The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 1981

(i). The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
(ii). The Jurisprudence of the African Commission

(c). Protocol on the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 1998
(d). Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, 2003
(e). Protocol on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa, 2018

V. Africa and Serious Crimes of International Concern

(a). Establishment of ad hoc Mechanisms
(b). The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, 1995
(c). The Special Court for Sierra Leone, 2002
(d). Extraordinary African Chambers, 2013

VI. Africa and the International Criminal Court

(a). Love at First Sight – Early Support of the Court
(b). ICC Concentration on Africa and Doubts of Its Impartiality
(c). Malabo Protocol, 2014 – A Way Out

VII. The Future of Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Africa 

3) Human rights in South America (Wednesday, 3 July 2019) 
Lecturer: Dr. Carolina Olarte Bacares
Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia

The Inter-American Human Rights System (IAHRS) has shaped South America. In this course, we will explore the history and practice of the human rights protection in the region, emphasizing salient characteristics of the IAHRS. The course will provide an overview and a critical analysis of the case law and practice of the IAHRS and will examine their impact at the domestic level. We will study especially the avant-garde developments of the system regarding the notion of victims of human rights violations, the broad interpretation of the catalogue of human rights, and the conceptualization of reparations to human rights violations.

4) Human rights in Australia (Thursday, 4 July 2019) 
Lecturer: Dr. Emma Henderson
La Trobe University Melbourne, Australia

Australia is now the only western country without a comprehensive national human rights framework.  The decision to exclude a Bill of Rights from Australia’s Constitution was deliberate, and although the matter has been revisited on numerous occasions over the past 120 years, there is no political will to change this state of affairs.   While Australia has been a leader in the international human rights arena, and has a strong legislative track record in some areas of anti-discrimination, in other areas of human rights development Australia lags significantly behind her peers.    In this part of the course we will explore the historical reasons for the absence of a Bill of Rights, and look at a number of case studies to examine how the absence of a national framework is leading Australia to develop an increasingly ‘exceptional’ approach to human rights law.

5) Human rights in Asia (Friday, 5 July 2019)
Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Kerstin Steiner
La Trobe University Melbourne, Australia

In the 1990s, Southeast Asia has a well-documented reserved relationship towards international human rights claiming cultural exceptionalism based on ‘Asian Values’. Since then, Asian countries have ratified a significant number of international human rights albeit with reservations being made on cultural values and religious grounds, mostly referring to Islam. Selected case studies from various countries regarding different human rights will be explored in this part of the course.

Week 2 - Corporate Social Responsibility

1) Corporate Social Responsibility in Asia (Monday & Tuesday, 8 & 9 July 2019)
Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Kerstin Steiner
La Trobe University Melbourne, Australia

Part I: A Regional Overview

Corporate Social Responsibility is usually discussed from a Western angle with its foundation grounded in Western philosophy and with a focus on Western practise etc. Yet CSR can be grounded in Asian philosophies and thoughts with alternative practises especially in Asian countries. Selected case studies from different Asian countries and how different business organisations are approaching CSR.

Part II: The Islamic Discourse on Zakat

Zakat is one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith. It is an obligatory contribution where Muslims’ are required by Islamic law to advance socio-economic welfare and to purify ones’ wealth.

The development of zakat in Malaysia is a narrative that is shaped by different epistemic communities responding to broader political, economic or religious changes. With modern legal arrangement, zakat has shifted from an initially religious practice to something closely tied to political, social and economic structures of the state. This shift has given rise to the creation of a new type of corporate social responsibility, corporate zakat responsibility that is combining Western derived ideas of CSR with Islamic legal elements especially zakat.

2) Legal Aspects of Corporate Criminal Liability (CCL) (Wednesday, 10 July 2019)
Lecturer: Professor Gustavo Beade
Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina

Over the last decades, criminal law has undergone fundamental structural changes. One of the most important developments is the introduction of corporate criminal liability (CCL) which allows for direct sentencing of the corporation itself as the principal. Criminal Law has traditionally applied to individuals as emphasis reflected in its underlying premises, structures and dogmatic aspects and sanctions. All these dimensions of criminal law have been affected by the adoption of CCL, a concept that allow for the penalization of a legal person representing aggregated individuals. The course will provide an overview of the general discussion in Germany, USA and UK and some of particular legal aspects of the CCL. In particular, we will focus in problems of CCL legal obligations: Compliance Programs, Whistleblowing, Willful Blindness, among others. 

3) The Fundamental Rights of Workers (Thursday, 11 July 2019)
Lecturer: Prof. Juliana Morad Acero
Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia

One of the most important aspects within the CCL refers to the labor relationship between companies and workers. The International Labor Organization (ILO) has issued more than 200 conventions on labor conditions. Eight of them specify the four fundamental rights of workers: Freedom of Association, prohibition of forced labor, prohibition of child labor and non-discrimination. Likewise, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises include important aspects of employment policies in general, such as the training of personnel, the management of employee complaints, and collective bargaining, among others. The course will provide an overview of these international obligations (for Latin America and specifically for Colombia) and will focus especially on certain aspects such as: new technologies, gender approaches and Colombia's challenges in a post-conflict scenario. 

4) Corporate Social Responsibility as Enforceable Responsibility (Friday, 12 July 2019)
Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Alexandra Andhov
University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not a soft-law or a marketing concept anymore. CSR touches on a variety of legal issues that any lawyer in 21st century should be aware of. CSR translates social values, such as respect for human rights, employees' dignity, environmental protection or business integrity into law through diverse legal tools. Decades ago these values remained theoretical and often voluntary, yet these times of simple philanthropy are gone. Over the past decade, the international community and in some cases also the national legislators have made significant advances in examining and clarifying the links between corporations and CSR. International organizations and governments have laid down regulatory frameworks, guidelines, monitoring and reporting procedures that corporations are required to follow. Furthermore, corporations themselves have adopted codes of conduct and internal procedures in order to adhere to the above stated standards and rules. These tools combined with evolving jurisprudence effectively render CSR in many cases an enforceable law.

The summer course will provide you with the necessary legal background for understanding what CSR is, how it should be applied and enforced. Within the course, you will be introduced into the existing legal framework and existing legal tools such as reporting duties, tort law liability and contract law requirements applying and enforcing the protection of CSR. With a focus on practical examples, students will analyze the spectrum and the extent to which businesses today do play a role in the protection of human rights. It is advisable for the students to be aware (have basic knowledge) of the company law, corporate governance and public international law. Reading will be sent beforehand, so students can during the course focus on practical cases.


Prof. Dr. Jessica Schmidt
University of Bayreuth 

Prof. Dr. Bernd Kannowski
University of Bayreuth

Prof. Dr. Nina Nestler
University of Bayreuth

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