The Role of Lawyers under the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
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Faculty of Law, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
International Legal Ethics Conference VI
City University London
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The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are a global standard for preventing and addressing the risk of adverse impacts on human rights linked to business activity. For the purpose of lawyers’ ethical obligations, the Guiding Principles are not laws in the same sense as statutes or jurisprudence. But this is far from saying that they are purely aspirational and can simply be ignored. The Guiding Principles are understood to require all businesses, regardless of size, to respect all human rights. The aim of this research project is to explain and analyze the nature of the Guiding Principles and assess their impact on Canadian lawyers. Questions to be considered include (i) whether it would be professional negligence not to take appropriate account of the Guiding Principles in advising clients and (ii) whether it would be an ethical breach to advise a client to breach the Guiding Principles or to assist a client in such a violation.