Venice School of Human Rights

Programme 2014

Human Rights as our responsibility


After an introduction on general challenges, three topics have been selected to be examined in depth:

Programme of the general introduction:

Business and Human Rights

Those active in human rights circles, from seasoned experts to curious students, have in the last decade tried to comprehend the implications for human rights of the increased globalisation of economic exchanges. The benefits that globalisation has delivered and the potential it carries for developing countries to move their populations out of poverty are accompanied by significant risks and well documented abuses of human rights. Transnational companies have been an important engine of this process and have ripped major benefits as they moved into new markets. This course is about the responsibilities of TNCs for their human rights impacts. More broadly it is about public law and corporate voluntarism, about regulation and business practice. Lectures will explain regulation, advocacy, business ethics, and corporate voluntarism in several human rights areas and in various business contexts.

The aim is to provide a balanced view covering both the legal framework and corporate practice while taking an applied focus. At the end of the course students should be armed with concrete examples and conceptual tools, have an increased sensitivity to the main issues accompanying globalisation, the potential solutions and points of leverage, and an appreciation of the complexity of the debate surrounding business and human rights. 

Learning Objectives

  • Insights in how codes of conduct practically operate and on other practical aspects of business and human rights.

  • In-depth knowledge concerning the circumstances in which international human rights standards are created and applied in regard to private/public economic exchanges;

  • Knowledge about the role of states, the European Union, international organisations, business enterprises and associations in enforcing and promoting corporate responsibilities in relation to human rights.

Programme of Cluster A: Business and Human Rights

People on the Move and their Human Rights: The Internationalization of Migration Law and The Role of The EU

International law (and EU law) is playing an increasingly relevant role in an area (migration regulation and governance) strictly pertaining to sovereign states. This has several major implications. Among them, there is the spectacular emergence of the objective tension between states - equally human rights oriented - lying on the opposite sides of the line, namely sending states vs hosting ones. International and EU law should therefore embed an element of solidarity - a topic that states carefully tend to avoid though, except in top emergency situations... 

After an introductory day, Tuesday is devoted to present students with a fresh recapitulation of international legal standards; on Wednesday the human rights dimension is expressly addressed; on Thursday we will deal with the EU policies on migration and - most particularly - asylum and vulnerable groups; Friday will be devoted to a case-study (Italy...); Saturday will be a wrap-up session, where students may also present some of the projects they have elaborated during the week.


Programme of Cluster B: People on the Move and their Human Rights: The Internationalization of Migration Law and The Role of The EU

Freedom of expression and assembly online

While the internet is creating new opportunities for freedom of expression and assembly as more and more people are using it to find information and to share their views on a variety of platforms including the social media, there are disturbing trends of increased governmental interference, in particular in the East and in the South. They pose new challenges to freedom of expression and assembly online. The Council of Europe is one of the main organizations, which have taken on this challenge. It has recently elaborated also a guide on human rights for internet users, which should make them more aware of their rights and existing remedies, also with regard to the social media.

This cluster takes off with a solid introduction into the matter by three academics who all have published recent books on the matter. It then gives the floor to practitioners from the media and the Council of Europe before representatives from Google and Facebook will give their side of the story. In addition, participants will discuss major issues in multi-stakeholder workshops.

Among the questions to be discussed are:

  • What are the main challenges to freedom of expression and assembly in the information society today?
  • Where do journalists see the main threats, but also opportunities to freedom of expression online?
  • How is the Council of Europe contributing do protecting freedom of expression and assembly online?
  • Which rights do users have in the social networks and how can they make best use of them?

Programme of Cluster C: Freedom of Expression and Assembly Online