CfP ESIL IG on International Business and Human Rights, 12 September 2019

The ESIL Interest Group on International Business and Human Rights is organising a workshop on the occasion of the 15th ESIL Annual Conference, 12-14 September, Athens.
The topic is  ‘Sovereignty and the Extraterritorial Obligations of States under International Human Rights Law’.
The theme of the 15th ESIL Annual Conference leads with sovereignty, and to what extent this fundamental concept of public international law is under strain due to multiple challenges, ranging from an increasing number of territorial disputes, the vanishing of territories due to climate change and the diminishing of independence due to globalisation. Against this background, the Workshop organized by the ESIL Interest Group on International Business and Human Rights seeks to re-examine the extraterritorial obligations of States under international human rights law to regulate business entities that operate transnationally.
There is a tension between sovereignty and extraterritoriality because on the one hand, sovereignty implies the exclusive competence of States to prescribe and enforce laws over a territory and the persons living there. On the other hand, there is a corresponding duty of non- intervention in the affairs of other States. The presumption against extraterritoriality further limits the reach of a State’s domestic laws beyond its territory. The aim of the Workshop is to assess whether, how, and to what extent this tension impacts on the State duty to protect human rights, the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, as well as on the right to access remedies and compensation for rights-holders.
The workshop will approach this theme from five directions:
1. Do States have obligations under international human rights law to regulate the extraterritorial activities of business entities domiciled in their territory? What is the role of soft law in this context? What is the current status of domestic legislation that imposes extraterritorial liability for human rights violations committed abroad? How do recent developments – particularly in the field of international environmental law – inform this discussion? Does extraterritoriality operate differently within areas of international law relevant to the regulation of business activities (e.g. human rights law, investment law, trade law, or the protection of general interests such as the environment)?
2. How can other areas of international law – such as jurisdiction, State responsibility and due diligence – have an impact on the accountability of transnational corporations?
3. What is the ambit of application and what are the inherent limits of extraterritorial jurisdiction?
4. Why is there a tension between State sovereignty and extraterritoriality? Can this tension be reconciled? How should this be achieved?
5. How is this issue dealt with by the treaty on business and human rights, currently under negotiation? Does it provide for adequate and /or innovative solutions?
Further information here.
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