Business and Human Rights
We will emphasise the importance of having a multilateral, collective approach, in order to advance a cause as wide-reaching as that of the protection and the advocacy of human rights. Indeed, a single stakeholder – whether in the public or private sector – however powerful it may be, cannot hope to make a difference in this area. In view of this, international law has to play a fundamental role in protecting individuals against abuses and breaches of their human rights by their fellow human beings, States or other public or private entities. The legal professions – and that of lawyer first and foremost – have a responsibility to support these efforts to ensure greater respect for human rights.
Panel 1: General presentation of the UN Guiding Principles on business
and Human Rights: States’ obligations - Corporations’ liabilities - Remedies
Keynote speech :
Dante PESCE, member of the United Nations Working Group, Chile
In his speech, Mr. Pesce will trace the path that, in 2011, led to the unanimous adoption of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights by the Member States of the United Nations Human Rights Council. He will explain the advantages and the disadvantages of an approach based on voluntary participation by corporations in the implementation of these guidelines, and will describe the obligations States are under in this context, as well as corporations’ liability in the event of the breach of human rights in their organisation and throughout their economic value chain.
Panel 2: Respect for Human Rights, a source of liability and opportunities for businesses
A panel of experts, law professors and conciliators will discuss concrete cases of breaches of human rights by corporations, in particular in light of the experiences reported by civil society stakeholders. A clear message has been sent to institutional or private investors to ensure that they are aware of their potential liability if they contribute to the financing of economic and commercial activities that cause human rights violations. Academic analysis and research can help to determine the level of this risk, to assess its consequences and to identify possible remedies. It is in the interest of corporations that find themselves exposed to such risks to surround themselves with well-informed advisors in order to manage the risks and prevent all future human rights violations.
Panel 3: Corporate Responsibility for Data Protection
The protection of personal data is one of the fundamental rights that affects all companies across the board and all freelancers in both the public and private sectors. The penalties handed down by the European regulators now give the internet giants serious food for thought. In January 2019, the CNIL (French Data Protection Agency) issued Google with a record fine of €50 million for breaches of the legislation on personal data protection. This shows corporations what is now expected of them in terms of data protection. This session will be an opportunity to review key ECJ case-law, which were extensively commented in the specialised press. There will be a lecture by special guest Viviane Reding, a former Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, who will review the key aspects of the European personal data protection reform that she herself initiated. The second speaker will be Thomas von Danwitz, a Judge at the European Court of Justice who specialises in data protection. A presentation will then follow by the activist Max Schrems and his lawyer, Professor Herwig C.H. Hofmann, who will look back on the cases they pleaded before the European Court of Justice in Schrems vs Facebook and on their fight against the largest online companies, in particular Facebook.