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Access to remedy: How to create a holistic system of remedies for corporate human rights violations?

Discussions on access to remedy in the context of corporate human rights violations are often reduced to the issue of human rights litigation before national courts. While access to courts certainly constitutes a critical component of access to remedy, it is by far not the only one. Access to remedy is multi-faceted and must be understood in very broad terms. For this reason, the UNGP call upon states to foster not only judicial but also non-judicial remedies (Principle No. 31).

In practice, the UNGP have led to the creation of a multitude of new non-State-based remedies. Whereas the increase in the offer of non-judicial remedies is to be welcomed, this development also has its drawbacks: The fragmentation of remedial approaches creates a complex and confusing remedial landscape for remedy seekers to navigate. A holistic approach to access to remedy is there fore required: Judicial and non-judicial remedies are not mutually exclusive, they complement each other. To achieve access to an appropriate and efficient remedy, a coherent system of remedies in business and human rights cases needs to be established that provides victims of corporate human rights abuses in each specific case with a remedy that is suited to their specific problem. Ideally, the system would guide victims of corporate human rights violations towards the appropriate mechanism.

The workshop, organised by the German Federal Ministry of Justice in cooperation with the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), will discuss ways to achieve a holistic and efficient system of access to remedy. Starting point will be a presentation of the FRA study “Business and human rights: access to remedy” that identifies factors that obstruct or, conversely, facilitate access to justice in regard to human rights abuses by business. The workshop will then turn the spotlight on the often neglected non-judicial remedies and explore their role in a holistic system of remedies for corporate human rights violations. The linkages between different non-judicial remedies on the one hand and between judicial and non-judicial remedies on the other hand will be explored and the possibilities for different remedies to complement each other so as to form a coherent system of remedies tailored to the specific needs of each individual case will be discussed.