By Anna Grear (auth.)

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The fact that he has to insist that fundamental freedoms lack the intimate bond with human beings that the term ‘human rights’ invokes suggests that he concedes something central to the conceptual critique: the notion that human rights and the human being share, conceptually and linguistically, such a close bond that the notion of ‘corporate’ human rights indeed seems oxymoronic. The conceptual critique of corporate human rights is not defeated by arguing that ‘human rights’ for corporations must, in the ECHR context, be translated as ‘fundamental freedoms’ for corporations.

The conceptual critique of corporate human rights is not defeated by arguing that ‘human rights’ for corporations must, in the ECHR context, be translated as ‘fundamental freedoms’ for corporations. In fact, by relying on the utilisation of a sister concept that diminishes, at least linguistically, the bond between humanity and human rights, Emberland concedes, to a degree, the force of the conceptual critique. Secondly, although Emberland’s criticism works better if understood as an insistence that corporations do not in fact have human rights under the ECHR, but instead enjoy fundamental freedoms, it is by no means clear that any such distinction can easily be drawn.

81 But while the Norms announce a zero-tolerance approach to the most blatant human rights abuses, and for the first time, attempt to impose the disciplinary regimes of international human rights law upon business enterprises, the likely future success of the Norms should not be overestimated. 83 The Norms were put on hold at that stage by the Commission, which later (in 2005) recommended that the UN Secretary-General appoint a Special Representative to review the whole question of corporations and human rights.

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