BTF5345 - Human rights and global business - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Postgraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.


Business and Economics

Organisational Unit

Department of Business Law and Taxation

Chief examiner(s)

Ms Ingrid Landau


Ms Ingrid Landau

Unit guides



  • First semester 2019 (On-campus)


LAW5345Not offered in 2019


This unit seeks to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to understand how business activities and relationships impact upon human rights, and to recognise and engage in an informed and socially responsible manner with human rights issues when working in a business environment.

Businesses dealing in today's global marketplace are expected to understand how their operations and commercial relationships may impact negatively on human rights. They are also expected to account for how they are responding to these risks. But what does this mean in practice? What are human rights and why are they relevant to business? What is the scope of the corporate responsibility to respect human rights? How does a business identify and manage its human rights risks and exposures? This course examines the challenges that face transnational businesses with respect to human rights, and public and private regulatory responses. It explores a diverse range of issues such as labour rights in manufacturing and food supply chains; freedom of expression, privacy and information and communication technology companies; community rights and extractive companies, and the human rights risks for lending in the financial sector.

The unit begins by introducing students to key concepts, debates and actors in the evolving field of business and human rights. It then examines the diverse regulatory mechanisms and initiatives that seek to promote corporate responsibility for adverse impacts on human rights, including national and international law, intergovernmental initiatives, multi-stakeholder initiatives and self-regulation. The unit investigates the nature and limitations of these various approaches through the use of case studies, drawn from a range of different industries and geographical localities. It also seeks to develop students' awareness of some of the practical challenges that business practitioners face when seeking to implement a human rights agenda within an organisational environment. While global in its scope, this unit places a particular emphasis on business and human rights in the Asia-Pacific region.


The learning goals associated with this unit are to:

  1. understand the key concepts and debates in relation to corporate accountability and human rights.
  2. identify and describe key public and private regulatory frameworks and initiatives in this area, how they interact and their strengths and limitations
  3. understand the diversity of regulatory actors that shape the business and human rights agenda
  4. understand the various legal and extra-legal ways in which a remedy for business-related human rights harms is pursued
  5. engage with practical challenges that businesses may face when seeking to act responsibly and in a manner respectful of human rights.


Within semester assessment: 100%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. Independent study may include associated readings, assessment and preparation for scheduled activities. The unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information