At the time when the world celebrates the 10th anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), their uptake in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe remains extremely low. There are only a few examples of States in the region which have adopted National Action Plans (NAPs) on Business and Human Rights (Lithuania, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia, Georgia, Ukraine). This progress, at times, seems to be outweighed by the number of challenges prevalent across the region, including visible business-related human rights abuses. The status quo of business and human rights in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) appears to hinge on low levels of human rights protection and the rule of law. Undemocratic regimes, lack or limited competition in key sectors and a large share of state participation in the economy (State Owned Enterprises, etc.), has led to a lack of tradition for business taking responsibility for human rights abuses. This same environment has led to a lack of societal expectations to hold business accountable. Serious discussions about the role of corporations in society and what their responsibility to respect human rights entails are still relatively new in the region. There is also a question as to whether there is anything unique to the CEE in its current or future approach to UNGPs implementation. At the same time, the human rights in the business context of CEE has been so far insufficiently researched and studied.
This Special Issue on “Opportunities and Region-Specific Challenges for Business and Human Rights: Central and Eastern Europe” aims to fill this gap in business and human rights discourse.
This special issue will bring together diverse academic and practitioner perspectives on topical BHR issues focusing on identification of opportunities for improved responsibility and accountability as well as the special challenges for the CEE region.
We invite proposals for scholarly articles and for shorter developments in the field pieces which are looking at recent innovations or developments relating to BHR in the region.
Topics may include, but are not limited to:
1. ensuring Implementation of the UNGPs by States and other Stakeholders.
2. analysis of the UNGPs implementation in the countries of the region, including the role of non-state actors, National Human Rights Institutions, academic actors etc. in driving implementation;
3. recommendations for policies and initiatives that have the potential to break through the limitations / challenges typical for the region and advance implementation of the UNGPs.
4. impact of legal, historical, political and economic context on the implementation of recognized standards on business and human rights;
5. the spheres of legal regulation that are traditionally regarded as neutral in matters of human rights protection in the CEE region that may be useful tools for incentivizing business respect for human rights including public procurement, investment, tax law, corporate law etc.; and
6. examples of good practices and collaborative efforts specific to individual countries and transnational/regional cooperation;
7. examples of mandatory human rights due diligence in the region;
8. human rights business commitments:
9. corporate responsibility to respect civil and political rights;
10. assessing the levels of discrimination tolerance of vulnerable groups in business contexts (LGBTIQ+ people, Roma people, people with disabilities, internally displaced persons etc.);
11. research into gender inequalities in the region and efforts aimed at counteracting the patriarchal business culture in CEE region;
12. labour rights (forced labour, informal employment, gig-workers etc); and
13. is there a CEE approach to implementing BHR/UNGPs?
14. corporate culture and its impact on how businesses and management address human rights
15. how the management styles and corporate governance structures in the region affect companies’ ability to ensure responsibility to respect human rights and examples of solutions challenging them;
16. levels of BHR awareness among SMEs, including identification of those features that help them to be more responsible and accountable, as well as recommendations for support; and
17. how companies address diversity and inclusion efforts in States which may be hostile to specific rights holders including the rights of LGBTIQ+ persons.
18. access to justice in business related abuses cases:
19. barriers to access to fair, independent and impartial judicial and non-judicial mechanisms and ways to overcome them;
20. lack of non-judicial mechanisms to protect human rights from business related abuses and ways to overcome it;
21. promises and challenges of internal company level grievance mechanisms, and their effectiveness;
22. experiences of human rights defenders in cases of the business’ human rights abuses in the CEE region.
23. conflict and post-conflict situations in the region (Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia).
We invite scholarly articles and developments in the field.
specifying author(s), affiliation, email, draft title and brief abstract (circa 300 words) of the intended paper. Please indicate clearly whether your abstract is for a scholarly article or a DiF piece.
· Scholarly articles should offer original and in-depth academic research and be approximately 9,000-12,000 words long (inclusive of footnotes, abstract, title and appendices). (Scholars)
· DiF pieces should be 1,500-2,500 words long and be focused on timely and current milestones, innovations or other developments in the field of BHR and related areas. (Scholars and informed practitioners)
Please make sure that in planning your proposed contribution, you read the Business and Human Rights Journal Instructions for Authors
1. Deadline for submission of abstracts – 15 October 2021.
2. Abstract selection and invitation to submit full paper – 1 December 2021.
3. Workshop for invited authors – January 2022.
4. Deadline for receipt of the first draft of full papers – 1 March 2022.
5. Discussion of the full papers at the Conference – (late) March 2022.
6. Deadline for submitting the final version – 1 May 2022.
7. Double blind peer review – May/September 2022.
8. Post peer review revision period (if needed) – October/December 2022.
9. Deadline for submitting revised papers – December 2022.
10. Publication of special issue – June 2023.
· Rutvica Andrijasevic, Associate Professor in International Migration and Business, University of Bristol School of Management, Bristol, UK;
· Jernej Letnar Černič, Professor of Human Rights and Constitutional Law, New University, Ljubljana, Slovenia;
· Beata Faracik, President of the Polish Institute for Human Rights and Business, Warsaw, Poland;
· Olena Uvarova, Associate Professor, Head of the International Lab on Business and Human Rights, Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University, Kharkiv, Ukraine.