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Course E152: Business and Human Rights

5 November-16 December 2014 (E15214) | Register for this course (opens in new window)
Instructor: Mihir Kanade

Course brochure PDF (PDF)

This certificate course offered jointly by HREA and the Human Rights Centre of the UN-mandated University for Peace introduces participants to the major themes and debates concerning the linkages between business and human rights. Since their corporate emergence, much before the nation-state was born, businesses have had a serious impact on human rights, more adverse than beneficial. Globalisation and the proliferation of multinational corporations has only exacerbated the situation whereby global leaders and human rights advocates are now scrambling to search for the appropriate paradigm within which businesses would not only stop having an adverse impact on human rights, but would, in fact, promote them. This e-learning course will critically examine this business-human rights nexus with a particular focus on case studies from around the world. Several questions such as the human rights obligations of businesses, the manner in which human rights are affected by businesses including during armed conflicts, the specific linkages with the right to environment and labour rights and the ever elusive solution for accountability will be examined. We will also look at the idea of corporate social responsibility within the right to development debate. In the final part, the contemporary and emerging frameworks for ensuring respect and promotion of human rights by businesses will be scrutinised from a critical lens.

This certificate course involves approximately 30 hours of reading, interaction with students and instructor on discussion boards, quizzes, a written assignment and webinars with invited guests. The course is based on a participatory, active learning approach, with an emphasis on critical reflection and peer-to-peer learning. The maximum number of course participants is 25. Students who successfully complete the course will receive a Certificate of Participation. It is also possible to be an auditor of the course.

Course outline

Week 1: Searching for human rights obligations of businesses as non-state actors
Week 2: The unholy alliance: business and armed conflicts
Week 3: Business and the right to environment; business and labour rights
Week 4: The development nexus: business, corporate social responsibility and human rights
Week 5: The justiciability question: business, human rights and accountability 
Week 6: What next: The contemporary and evolving business-human rights frameworks (The John Ruggie Framework, its criticisms and its implementation)

About the instructor

Mihir Kanade is the Director of the Human Rights Center at the United Nations mandated University for Peace (UPEACE) and is an Academic Consultant to the Department of International Law and Human Rights at UPEACE. Prior to the present position, Mr. Kanade practiced for seven years as a lawyer in the Supreme Court of India and the Bombay High Court, focusing on issues of fundamental human rights violations. He holds a LL.B. from Nagpur University and a Masters degree in International Law and the Settlement of Disputes from UPEACE. He has served extensively as a legal advisor to many human rights organizations, including those involved with refugee protection, and has represented them before different courts and tribunals in criminal, constitutional, asylum, human rights and labour cases. His current primary area of academic research and study is Human Rights, Development and International Trade linkages. He is a consultant to the United Nations University, Tokyo, on a project titled 'WTO Agreements, United Nations and Human Security'.

Who should apply

The course is intended for staff members of civil society organisations involved in corporate social responsibility, business leaders, trade unionists, academics and others interested in the human rights performance of companies. Candidates should have a good written command of English and have high competence and comfort with computer and Internet use. HREA and UPEACE aim to ensure equal gender and geographical distribution across the selected participants.


Tuition fee for participants: US$ 575; tuition for auditors: US$ 215. There are no scholarships or discounted tuition rates available for this course.

Payments can be made online with major credit cards (Discover, MasterCard, Visa), PayPal, bank transfer and money transfer (Western Union, MoneyGram). Bulk rates are available.


Register for this course (opens in new window). Registrations are accepted on a first-come-first-served basis. There is no registration deadline, but please be aware that courses generally fill up quickly!

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