On June 26 and 27, the "Distribution of Responsibility in Protecting Human Rights" conference took place. The conference's main objective was to delve into the idea of extraterritorial human rights obligations, which goes against the standard "territorial" approach in international law. The conference aimed to scrutinise the range and magnitude of states' duties outside their own territories, with the first day concentrating on Business and Human Rights while the second day focused on Climate Change.
In the talks about Business and Human Rights, it was recognised that earlier UN-led voluntary efforts, such as the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, have yet to adequately govern the actions of multinational corporations, especially in the Global South. The discussion emphasised the absence of substantial regulations and effective solutions for individuals suffering harm from corporate activities outside their home country.
Dalia Palombo from the University of Tilburg presented the potential of addressing climate change to break the impasse on corporate accountability. Several European states have adopted due diligence laws, and the European Union has implemented various initiatives to regulate multinational corporations. Joseph Wilde-Ramsing from SOMO, Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations, expressed optimism about these changes. Rachel Chambers from the University of Connecticut School of Law, discussed the extraterritorial components of recently adopted due diligence laws, emphasising their application to the relationship between parent corporations and subsidiaries. David Pred from Inclusive Development International presented IDI's "Follow the Money to Justice" initiative, highlighting how human rights violations by corporations involve multiple actors, including banks, insurance companies, and end users. Sara Seck's presentation bridged the topics of Business and Human Rights and Climate Change, focusing on the conceptualisation problems associated with the term "extraterritorial."
During the discussions about Climate Change, it was acknowledged as a highly urgent and complicated human rights issue due to greenhouse gas emissions beyond geographical borders. Margaretha Wewreinke-Singh from the University of Amsterdam discussed the Urgenda case and other climate change litigation in the Netherlands. Gerry Liston from the Global Legal Action Network provided an update on the Duarte case pending before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights and other climate change cases before the ECtHR. Coleen Scott from Inclusive Development International shared IDI's work in halting financing for coal plants in the Philippines and the StopEACOP initiative, which prevented the construction of the East African Oil Pipeline through grassroots activism and strategic litigation. Lisa Benjamin from Lewis & Clark School of Law discussed climate change litigation in the United States, highlighting successes in Hawaii and the fragmented approach to litigation across various state courts.
The conference brought together scholars, activists, and experts to discuss the challenges and potential solutions for protecting human rights, specifically in the context of Business and Human Rights and Climate Change. The discussions revealed the limitations of existing approaches and emphasised the need for more effective ways to distribute responsibility.