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Transnational Business and Human Rights - LAWS8189
 Law Books

Faculty: Faculty of Law
School:  Faculty of Law
Course Outline: See below
Campus: Kensington Campus
Career: Postgraduate
Units of Credit: 6
EFTSL: 0.12500 (more info)
Indicative Contact Hours per Week: 2
Enrolment Requirements:
Pre-requisite: Academic Program must be 9200 or 9210 or 9230 or 5740 or 9211 or 5211 or 9231 or 5231 or 9220 or 5750.
Excluded: JURD7589
CSS Contribution Charge:Band 3 (more info)
Further Information: See Class Timetable


This course equips students to understand the major human rights concerns arising in the global economy and international attempts to address them. It focuses on the relationship and interconnection between business activities, public policy and human rights obligations with emphasis on: international human rights and development; international investment, trade and human rights; and transnational corporations and human rights.

This course is also available to students undertaking relevant postgraduate non-law degree programs at UNSW, provided such enrolment is approved by the appropriate non-law Faculty.

LLM Specialisations

Recommended Prior Knowledge


Course Objectives

The aims listed below are part of the aim of the UNSW School of Law to instil in students the understandings values, skills and qualities necessary to become highly qualified professionals with a strong sense of citizenship, community and social justice. See the Appendix for a detailed description of the Graduate Attributes for Law (GA):
  • Core disciplinary knowledge :a functioning and contextual knowledge of law and legal institutions
  • Transferable intellectual skills: excellent intellectual skills of analysis, synthesis, critical judgment, reflection and evaluation
  • Research skills: the capacity to engage in practical and scholarly research
  • Communication skills: effective oral and written communication skills both generally and in specific legal settings
  • Personal and professional values: a commitment to personal and professional self-development, ethical practice and social responsibility
Placing these broader objectives in the specific course context, this course aims:
  • To examine and analyse the main legal concepts and principles of international human rights law, particularly those rights which relate to global economic activity
  • To acquire a sound understanding of the core objectives of and legal principles in the main bodies of public international economic law, particularly international trade and investment law
  • To explore the impacts of international economic law on human rights
  • To study and evaluate current initiatives for the regulation (and self-regulation) of transnational corporations in relation to human rights
  • To assess the effectiveness of avenues for enforcement of international human rights principles and law in the global economy

Main Topics

  • The context: globalisation
  • The internationalisation of economic law and human rights law
  • Key objectives, principles and structure of international human rights law
  • Economic and social rights: character, content, enforcement
  • The nature of states' obligations under the ICESCR
  • International trade and human rights in developing countries
  • Mapping the intersections between human rights and WTO law
  • Case study: Trade in agriculture, the right to food and the global food crisis
  • Case study: Intellectual property rights and access to drugs in developing countries
  • Case study: Trade in services and the right to water
  • International investment and human rights in developing countries
  • The human rights responsibilities of transnational corporations
  • Initiatives to regulate the human rights-related activities of transnational corporations
  • Climate change and global economic law


Class participation 10%
Short Answer Question 10%
Research Essay 80%

Course Texts

Course materials must be purchased from the UNSW Bookshop. Additional materials will be distributed during classes. A list of further reading for the course will be posted to Blackboard prior to the commencement of classes.


Please refer to the course outline for a full list of resources.

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© The University of New South Wales (CRICOS Provider No.: 00098G), 2004-2011. The information contained in this Handbook is indicative only. While every effort is made to keep this information up-to-date, the University reserves the right to discontinue or vary arrangements, programs and courses at any time without notice and at its discretion. While the University will try to avoid or minimise any inconvenience, changes may also be made to programs, courses and staff after enrolment. The University may also set limits on the number of students in a course.