Jennifer Zerk Consulting
     
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past projects

OHCHR Accountability and Remedy Project

Jennifer Zerk acted as lead legal consultant to the Accountability and Remedy Project of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (“OHCHR”). This project, which ran from November 2014 to July 2016, proceeded under a UN Human Rights Council mandate . The aim of the project was to identify ways of making domestic legal systems fairer and more effective for victims of business-related human rights abuses, particularly in the most severe cases.

In May 2016, in accordance with the request from the Human Rights Council, OHCHR submitted its final report of findings arising from the Accountability and Remedy (together with an explanatory addendum). The report includes an annex which sets out guidance for States on enhancing accountability and remedy for business-related human rights abuses. The guidance was developed through inclusive multi-stakeholder processes and based on extensive research, consultation and evidence gathering. It has been designed to take into account different legal systems, cultures, traditions and levels of economic development.

On 29 June 2016, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution by consensus which welcomed OHCHR's work on improving accountability and access to remedy for victims of business-related human rights abuses and noted “with appreciation” the report.

Creating markets for child friendly growth

Jennifer Zerk acted as a technical adviser in relation to this policy report launched by World Vision in April 2014. This World Vision report makes the moral and economic case for a common approach by G20 countries to address the problem of child labour in public procurement value chains. The report sets out a number of recommendations as to the key aspects which should be covered in governmental strategies, to ensure that law reforms are closely aligned with the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights and emerging best regulatory practice. The report can be accessed here http://www.wvi.org/justice-children/publication/creating-markets-child-friendly-growth

Corporate Liability for Gross Human Rights Abuses: Towards a fairer and more effective system of domestic law remedies

The study was commissioned by the Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights in February 2013 as part of follow-up work to the mandate of Professor John Ruggie as the UN Secretary General's Special Representative on Business and Human Rights. [ Background note : In February 2011, the then Special Representative, Professor John Ruggie, noted that further clarification of standards relating to appropriate investigation, punishment and redress where business enterprises cause or contribute to gross human rights abuses, as well as what constitutes effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions, are warranted. Professor Ruggie repeated this call in his opening remarks as Chair of the first UN Forum on Business and Human Rights held in Geneva on 3-5 December 2012].

The report sets out the results of a preliminary investigation into the effectiveness of domestic judicial mechanisms in relation to business involvement in gross human rights abuses. This report identifies barriers to accessing justice at domestic level, and the effects of differences in domestic approaches on the way that domestic remedial systems are used in practice. Based on the findings, the study sets out recommendations for areas for further enquiry.

The study finds that present arrangements for preventing, detecting and remedying cases of business involvement in gross human rights abuses are not working well: victims in many cases fail to get effective redress, States face uneven patterns of use of remedial mechanisms, and companies have to operate in an environment of great legal uncertainty and lack a level playing field.

A copy of the report can be accessed here
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/OHCHRstudyondomesticlawremedies.aspx

Simply Put: Towards an effective UK regime for environmental and social reporting by companies

The study was commissioned by the Corporate Responsibility (CORE) Coalition against the background of recent UK coalition government consultations on the future of non-financial reporting by UK companies. The study examines why the current legal framework for social and environmental reporting is failing and what changes to the law need to be made to take the guesswork out of corporate compliance.

A copy of the report can be accessed here
http://corporate-responsibility.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Simply-Put.pdf

Extraterritorial jurisdiction: Lessons for the Business and Human Rights Sphere from Six Regulatory Areas

This study was commissioned by the Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative of the Harvard Kennedy Law School to inform the mandate of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Business and Human Rights, Professor John Ruggie. The aim was to examine why and how states seek to influence foreign private actors in six different regulatory areas – anti-corruption, securities law, anti-trust, criminal law, civil law and environmental law – to see what lessons can be drawn for the Business and Human Rights sphere.

A copy of the report can be accessed here
http://www.hks.harvard.edu/m-rcbg/CSRI/publications/workingpaper_59_zerk.pdf

Tackling corporate abuse abroad

This study was commissioned by the Corporate Responsibility (CORE) Coalition. The aim was to identify and evaluate the different regulatory options that might be open to the UK government to help alleviate the social and environmental problems resulting from the activities of UK companies abroad. Deficiencies in the current regulatory system were illustrated using a series of case studies from different industrial and commercial sectors. Different regulatory options were compared using a demand/wish evaluation technique and then ranked according to which would be likely to have most impact in terms of improving poor performance and resolving real life problems and disputes.

Download a copy of the report here ...

Corporate complicity for human rights abuses: the civil law context

The brief was to examine the factors behind the growth of "human rights litigation" against companies and to assess its usefulness as way of achieving greater "corporate accountability" in this area. A "comparative" approach was called for (i.e. comparing the different legal approaches in different common law jurisdictions). The final report then fed into the deliberations of the International Commission of Jurists expert panel on Corporate Complicity in International Crimes and their substantial 2008 report on the subject.

For further information visit
www.business-humanrights.org/Updates/Archive/ICJPaneloncomplicity

 

 

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READING

Corporate liability for gross human rights abuses . Find out more about this study here ...

Praise for Multinationals and Corporate Social Responsibility. Purchase your copy and read what people have to say ...

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Jennifer Zerk Consulting: +44 (0)1223 207305 - info@jenniferzerkconsulting.com

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