International Business & Human Rights

Businesses are facing a growing body of domestic and international law, guidelines and judicial decisions imposing compliance requirements in relation to human rights. Companies are now expected to take steps to ensure their operations do not cause or contribute to human rights violations. This makes human rights risk management an important feature of international business and relates to several aspects of company operations across industries, including supply chains, access to finance, operational and procurement processes, and legal liability.

Companies with global operations and supply chains should embed human rights risk assessment and mitigation into their business. Failing to do so can bring significant legal, financial and reputational consequences.

We are at the forefront of the evolving business and human rights legal field. Our advice is based on a comprehensive understanding of how the issue plays out across borders. Our leading international trade practice routinely assists multinationals and SMEs in all aspects of trade and supply chain implementation and compliance. We work nationally and internationally with companies to meet requirements of both legislation and expectations set by international instruments, including the Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and OECD UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

We assist clients to understand their human rights exposure and to plan accordingly. This can include:

  • designing and implementing due diligence procedures, compliance policies and grievance mechanisms
  • supply chain management
  • meeting non-financial reporting requirements
  • crisis management and dispute resolution
Our services pay close regard to factors specific to each client, including a company’s specific industry and sector, its size, and the operation and management of its supply chain.

We work with clients across industries in private and public sectors, including mining, security, defence and retail.

We also have dispute resolution experience. Our lawyers have successfully advised and defended companies in civil claims brought by foreign plaintiffs alleging implication in human rights violations. In addition to court claims, we can also assist companies resolving disputes through private arbitration and national mechanisms, including the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) or the OECD National Contact Point.

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