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Paul van der Heijden awarded grant for Business & Human Rights databank

Professor Paul van der Heijden (International Labour Law) has been awarded a grant of 50,000 euros by the city council of The Hague to start building a Business & Human Rights database.

Paul van der Heijden

The reporting, application and protection of human rights has long been the exclusive domain of States. They conclude international treaties laying down standards and usually regulate the monitoring of observance with these standards. All this occurs within the field of public international law.

For a number of years, a corresponding situation has been developing in the field of private law. Large internationally operating corporations are increasingly feeling responsibility for a decent society in which there is respect for human rights.

Influenced by institutional shareholders such as pension funds, a movement has started that is known as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). More and more corporations are signing up to Codes of Conduct in the field of the environment/climate and in the field of fundamental labour rights (prohibition of child labour, forced labour, discrimination, freedom to belong to a trade union, and safety at work).   The Netherlands Social and Economic  Council (SER) has also drawn up these kinds of Codes for certain business sectors.

Insight into and knowledge of these Codes of Conduct, of which many exist throughout the world, is however pretty mediocre and accessibility is fragmented. There is also not much information about the operation of these Codes of Conduct in practice. It is therefore worthwhile building an open-access digital databank. Accessibility and usefulness of information will increase as a result, leading to an abundance of material for scientific and legal research. This is something perfectly in line with the ambition of The Hague to be the ‘Legal Capital of the World’.

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