Main page Threefold Legal Advisors Areas of Expertise Business & Human Rights Protection of the Rights of Business via Human Rights Instruments and Mechanisms

Protection of the Rights of Business via Human Rights Instruments and Mechanisms

National level

  • The majority of international and regional human rights standards, whose beneficiaries are inter alia commercial companies, are further elaborated in a wide range of national laws. Being under an international obligation to provide effective remedies, States normally give businesses access to domestic judicial and non-judicial means that allow them to obtain redress with regard to their infringed rights.Parties to court proceedings in certain jurisdictions can directly invoke international norms before national courts.

  • For example, international human rights treaties signed and ratified by the Russian Federation, such as the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as customary international law (e.g. as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) are incorporated in the Russian legal system. The invocation of international standards may strengthen the aggrieved party’s legal argument even if no further recourse to the international courts and tribunals is intended. 

  • Furthermore, it is crucially important that an alleged violation of an international instrument is first raised in domestic proceedings, where the relevant convention or treaty so requires. Failure to raise international treaty-related concerns before national courts may later impede bringing a case before the international forum.

International level

The European Court of Human Rights (the ECtHR)

  • In Russia and the vast majority of other countries in Europe, the European Convention on Human Rights establishes one of the most effective regional mechanisms for the protection of business interests. For more information on the European Convention on Human Rights click here

Investment treaty arbitration

  • Nowadays, several thousands of bilateral and a few multilateral investment treaties protect foreign investments from abuses, generally those that may be attributed to States and their agents. Although these treaties do not, strictly speaking, fall within the category of human rights instruments, they provide for important guarantees against the violation of rights and mistreatment of foreign investors and their assets in the host States.

  • In addition, human rights issues may arise and/ or relevant instruments may be invoked in the course of the investment arbitration proceedings. For example, the defendant State may refer to human rights concerns to justify its actions that are challenged by the investor as constituting a breach of investment protection standards. Another possibility is that the tribunal would cite human rights courts’ interpretation of certain applicable legal concepts (e.g. indirect expropriation or the principle of proportionality). In any case, a company is advised to consult a human rights specialist.