HUMR5133 – Business and Human Rights

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Course content

The rise of contemporary economic globalisation has changed traditional discussions on the duties of businesses to increasingly being framed in terms of human rights and in a transnational and global manner. Yet, in spite of growing support for the idea that businesses should respect human rights, it is still far from having global acceptance and recognition.

This course addresses recent developments in linking business practices and human rights (including corporate social responsibility (CSR)) within the UN and in other international organisations, and focusses on the efforts in making human rights an important normative framework for the conduct of business in different societal and political contexts. It offers arguments in favor of and against extending human rights to the corporate sector, and discusses legal developments, including normative and remedial mechanisms. It examines strengths and weaknesses of the CSR movement and the scope for making human rights regulatory measures for corporate behavior. The students will study practical cases of CSR policies of selected companies in a variety of contexts.

Learning outcome


  • Good knowledge of the links between business practices and human rights, including corporate social responsibility (CSR) as defined by the UN and other international organisations
  • Good knowledge of practical experiences in making human rights a normative framework for the conduct of business in different societal and political contexts
  • Good knowledge of the arguments in favour of and against extending human rights to the corporate sector and the scope for making human rights regulatory measures for corporate behaviour
  • Good knowledge of legal developments, including normative and remedial mechanisms


  • Analyse and identify  relevant human rights issues in the CSR debate and understand how these are of practical importance to transnational and small-scale businesses
  • Locate applicable source material and identify and interpret the relevant substantive rules and principles on the duties of companies to respect human rights as they arise in case law
  • Understand the obstacles and challenges of integrating human rights in the conduct of business
  • Be able to critically evaluate existing human rights treaties, and existing guiding principles, on human rights and business behaviour

General competence
The students will be able to:

  • Carry out  case studies of the CSR policies of selected companies in different social, economic and political contexts
  • Assess the impact of human rights on corporate behaviour
  • Address issues of consumer rights and behaviour from the position of human rights ethics
  • Assess the practices and impact of different strategies of remedy and compensation
  • Analyse empirical cases of business conduct in light of human rights law


You may register for this course if you have admission to a Master’s programme at UiO. All applicants must satisfy the formal prerequisites. Priority is given to students of the Master of Philopsophy programme in the Theory and Practice of Human Rights.

Students admitted to other Master's programmes may apply for guest student status.


Lectures and seminars.


Examination consists of a written assignment with a maximum of 5000 words. Please note that assignments with text exceeding the word limit will not be sent to grading.

The written assignment account for 100 % of the total grade. One total grade is given for the whole coursework.

Rules about cheating and plagiarism.
Be sure that you are familiar with the use of sources and the rules for citing/quoting from others’ work when writing assignments. Read more here

UiO uses a plagiarism checking tool as one of several instruments for detecting suspicion of cheating and attempted cheating.

Previous exam papers

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Marking criteria

This  guide is used by examiners for grading this course.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

If a student has submitted a written assignment a second time in the same course s/he can only submit it in a new version. This means that there must be another title and theme, or that the new version must be considerably changed from the first version.

Students who wish to retake the exam in a later semester are not guaranteed that the course is ever repeated with a similar reading list, nor that the exam arrangement will be the same.

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take this exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

There are special rules for resitting a passed examination in the master's programme in Law.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Every autumn


Every autumn

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