The Centre for Human Rights in Practice publishes occasional Working Papers showcasing work produced by Members of the Centre and/or speakers at Centre events.
2023 Working Papers
This paper addresses a series of topics in relation to the development of UK trade policy: Labour rights, Climate Change, Digital Trade, Gender and Scrutiny of Trade Agreements. It is produced by the Upturn Network which is a group of progressive academics and civil society researchers bringing decades of trade policy expertise to bear on ensuring UK trade policy is democratic and works for people and the environment
Key members of the network involved in the production of this briefing include Professor Donatella Alessandrini, Kent Law School, University of Kent; Ruth Bergan, Director, Trade Justice Movement; Professor Liam Campling, School of Business and Management, Queen Mary’s, University of London (QMUL); Professor James Harrison, School of Law, University of Warwick; George Holt, Senior Researcher, Trade Justice Movement; Dr. Emily Jones, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford; Professor Adrian Smith, School of Geography, University of Sussex.
Author: Professor James Harrison, Co-Director of the Centre for Human Rights in Practice, School of Law, University of Warwick
Human rights due diligence (HRDD) looks set to become a mandatory obligation imposed on many larger businesses by a variety of governments globally. But our understanding of the future potential of HRDD is currently constrained by lack of research into how it is operationalised in practice. This paper fills that gap by providing the first detailed empirical analysis of HRDD on the basis of interviews with practitioners who undertake HRDD, or aspects thereof, for companies. It argues that HRDD has the potential to address both a knowledge problem and an action problem with regard to the human rights performance of transnational corporations (TNCs). But the findings of this research identify three key challenges to making HRDD effective; (1) methodological uncertainty about key aspects of the process (2) power dynamics between critical actors who are charged with undertaking vital aspects of HRDD and (3) the nature of the competition which takes place between HRDD practitioners. Mandatory HRDD laws must empower key actors to effectively hold companies accountable for the HRDD they produce, otherwise more radical regulatory interventions need to be considered.