Nordisk Tidsskrift for Menneskerettigheter Vol. 22 Nr. 3:2004:

English abstracts

Magdalena Bexell: Conceptions of public and private in international debates on corporate responsibility for human rights protection

This article examines developments regarding notions of public and private responsibility for human rights protection, primarily in the international debate concerning the Sudan operations of the oil company Talisman Energy. It is argued that references to the public/ private distinction are politically and morally loaded since they frame perceptions of power, authority and responsibility in the international sphere. The debate in focus, as indeed the wider debates on corporate social responsibility, demonstrates an ongoing relocation of the boundary between public and private spheres of responsibility. The extent and limits of corporate responsibility for human rights protection are still vague, however.

Keywords: Human rights, corporate social responsibility, the public/private distinction, private international authority, international relations.

Viljam Engstrøm: Multinational corporations and human rights violations: Fundamental choices

Possible responsibility for human rights violations arising out of corporate activities has attracted much attention. This question is rooted in fundamental issues of international governance and our perceptions of law. Unfortunately, such fundamental themes rarely find their way into the responsibility debate, where discussion tends to revolve around the search for legal constructions of accountability. This article discusses how questions of the future role of the state and the character of legal reasoning might bear on two central topics of the responsibility debate: the choice between state and corporate responsibility and between “soft law” and “hard law” initiatives.

Keywords: Multinational corporations, human rights, responsibility.

Henrik Karl Nielsen: Decision of the Danish Supreme Court on Forcible Transfer of Population of Thule

The Danish Supreme Court delivered the first Danish court decision on Inuit land claims 28 November 2003. The plaintiffs included a number of individuals who had been forcibly removed from their Northern Greenland settlement in 1953 to make way for the establishment and extension of Thule Air Base. Their relocation was not subject to any formal Danish Government decision. The individuals received no financial compensation for the loss of territories. In 1999 the High Court ruled in favour of the plaintiffs and granted them financial compensation. However, the land claims relating to the territories around Thule Air Base were dismissed. This decision was upheld by the Supreme Court in its 2003 decision. The article examines the circumstances before and after the relocation in 1953, analyses the legal basis of the decision of the Supreme Court, and compares it with land claim cases relating to Diego Garcia and the Marshall Islands. Finally the article analyses case law from international human rights supervisory bodies, including cases relating to Thule.

Keywords: Inuit land claims, Indigenous and tribal populations, ILO Convention No. 169, Thule Air Base, Greenland.

Arne Tostesen: Election observation as an Informal Means of Enforcing Political Rights

This article argues that election observation has evolved as an informal enforcement mechanism with respect to several articles contained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, especially Article 25. This informal function stems from the inadequate enforcement capacity of the Human Rights Committee and its limited means of sanction, coupled with the rise of election observation since the early 1990s. The rationale of election observation and its contentious nature are discussed. The criticisms levelled against this practice are highlighted. Notwithstanding this critique, the article concludes that election observation has contributed to the enforcement of election-related political rights.

Keywords: Election observation, democratisation, political rights.