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Adding Human Rights Punch to the New Lex Mercatoria

This article argues that the Guiding Principles add significant “punch” to the private law of contracts when major international businesses require their partners and suppliers to comply with the Guiding Principles.

October 2015 | John G. Ruggie and John F. Sherman III; Oxford Journal of International Dispute Settlement | Pages: 7

This editorial, by Shift Chair Professor John Ruggie and Shift General Counsel and Senior Advisor John Sherman, seeks to demonstrate that the Guiding Principles add significant human rights “punch” to the private law of contracts when major international businesses require their partners and suppliers to comply with the Guiding Principles. The authors argue that the global reach and enforceability of this new “Lex Mercatoria,” (or “merchant law”, referring to the body of rules that governed the practices of merchants during the medieval era), can affect workplace conditions, the welfare of communities and environmental practices worldwide.

The editorial also discusses the origins of the Guiding Principles, their relationship to law, the important role that corporate lawyers and bar associations played in their development, global convergence around the Guiding Principles as a universal standard and the challenges and opportunities that lawyers may encounter when advising business.

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