Business and Human Rights

A boy searches through trash in a harsh environment for plastic and metal to sell on the Filipino open market. © 2008 Tham Joo Kit /Mio Cade Photography

The International Human Rights Clinic works to hold corporate actors accountable for human rights abuses and to raise global awareness about the relationship between business activities and human rights.   Business activity has a profound daily impact on the rights of individuals and communities around the world. Yet responses to the negative effects of business activity on human rights often emerge only in response to specific controversies, cover a limited set of rights, or apply selectively to individual companies or industries or particular regional contexts. The IHRC works to address this problem by exposing the enormous impact that businesses have on a wide spectrum of human rights in a variety of industries, by analyzing gaps in the international protection regime, and by advocating for greater corporate accountability under domestic and international law.

In 2011, and in partnership with the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, CHRGJ and IHRC launched the Business and Human Rights Documentation (B-HRD) Project.  B-HRD (pronounced “Be Heard”) is a multilingual, interactive web portal that provides grassroots groups, NGOs, policy makers, experts, advocates, academics, and the public at large with vital information about the human rights impacts of business activities, and with much-needed advocacy tools to hold businesses accountable in the globalized world.

B-HRD includes: a comprehensive Database of human rights reports on business activities that allows users to perform targeted searches; an In Focus section that highlights particular efforts to address business-related abuses; and a Tools and Strategies section for users to share strategies and discover tools to promote business accountability.

In 2008, the IHRC partnered with Human Rights Watch to produce a report illustrating how everyday business decisions have significant implications for the human rights of workers, local communities, suppliers, and consumers.

To learn more about these projects, please visit:

IHRC has also investigated and published its findings on business-related abuses in the context of farmer suicides in India and large-scale agricultural land acquisitions in Africa and Asia.  More information on these projects can be found here.  IHRC’s current work seeks to hold agribusiness corporations and mining companies accountable for human rights violations stemming from the forcible displacement of indigenous other populations from their lands.

Relevant Documents

Report: On the Margins of Profit: Rights at Risk in the Global Economy (2008)