Teaching Business and Human Rights - A Teaching Module for Business School Tutors

Report, 14 January 2014


Business school students need to understand what responsibilities businesses have when it comes to human rights. This teaching pack is designed to give business school faculty sufficient material and teaching resources to enable non-specialists to introduce the subject.

International human rights law derives from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) agreed by the United Nations in 1948. This was reinforced in 1966 by two international covenants on civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights. In addition there are a number of Core Conventions agreed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) specifically relating to the workplace.

International human rights treaties were adopted by states and refer primarily to state obligations. However, in its preamble, the UDHR also calls on ‘every individual and every organ of society’ to play their part in securing the observance of the rights contained within it. This phrase is often used as justification for expecting companies to respect human rights as important ‘organs of society’.

A growing number of ‘voluntary’ and ‘soft law’ initiatives have been created to address business responsibilities in the human rights field and help fill the gap between internationally agreed standards and inconsistencies.

These accompanying PowerPoint slides are aligned with the teaching module and are designed to provide tutors with speaking notes and students with notes of the key points covered:

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