In Defence of Direct Obligations for Businesses Under International Human Rights Law

Research paper by Andrés Felipe LÓPEZ LATORRE

Indexed on: 22 Mar '20Published on: 01 Jan '20Published in: Business and Human Rights Journal


This article presents three arguments on why businesses have direct obligations under existing international law. Nevertheless, in the present state of international law, the obligations of businesses are limited and wholly dependent on the state’s further action of implementation and enforcement. To reach this conclusion, the article asserts that businesses have partial legal personality in international law; that legal obligations and the enforcement model must be distinguished as two separate issues; and that human rights are requirements of justice that emanate from the dignity of each human person to any social actor, including businesses and other non-state actors. The article attempts to contribute to the debate about a binding instrument on business and human rights and presents an alternative understanding of international law that can assist domestic tribunals in applying international human rights standards to businesses as they carry out activities in their jurisdictions.