When the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights were adopted in 2011, the expectation was that the responsibility of business to respect human rights would largely be a voluntary one, with improvements in business actions occurring due mainly to social and economic pressures. While some businesses have made changes, and some industry associations have encouraged this, there has been an increasing amount of legal regulation of business for their actions which have had adverse human rights impacts.

This regulation has occurred at the international, regional and domestic levels, with changes to the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises, the International Labour Organisation Tripartite Principles and other international documents, which place expectations on states to act in relation to their regulation of business activities impacting on human rights. In the past few years, a number of states, such as Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sierra Leone, the United Kingdom and the United States, have introduced various pieces of legislation or administrative action to place legal obligations on businesses in regard to a range of human rights. The European Union is about to finalise its Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive which would cover a wide range of human rights and environmental matters, and would include within its scope both EU domiciled businesses and businesses domiciled elsewhere and operating in the EU. In addition, a series of cases before the courts, including in Canada, have broadened the possible legal duties and liabilities of businesses in this area.

Human Rights and Pluralism: Fresh Perspectives and New Directions

The Nathanson Centre is delighted to announce a panel presentation showcasing some of the exciting research being undertaken by current Visiting and Post-Doctoral Fellows, featuring Syed Muhammad Azeem, Sanja Dragić, Lovepreet Kaur & Miriam Zucker. Each panellist will present an ongoing research project, followed by an audience Q&A.


Please join us on March 22ndfrom 12:30 to 2:20PM, either in-person for lunch, or virtually by Zoom!




Dr. Syed Muhammad Azeem, “Labour Law from a ‘Third World’/‘South’ Perspective: A Postcolonial/Decolonial Theory of Labour Law”

This forthcoming book analyzes how struggles for decolonisation and the politics of postcolonial critique by countries of ‘the third world’/’south’ inspired the rank-and-file trade union in the West and played a vital role in the development of international labour law.


Dr. Sanja Dragić, ‘We will not allow the boat to be rocked’: Colour Revolutions, Civil Society and International Law

Civil society is at the heart of the political backlash worldwide. Among others, populist leaders invoke the narrative of “colour revolutions” to restrict or eradicate the space of “civil society.” What is the role of international law in contributing to and regulating the backlash?


Dr. Lovepreet Kaur, “Marriage Equality for the LGBT+ Community and the Potential for Reforms in Indian Family Law”

This research aims to analyze the social, cultural, and legal barriers to marriage equality faced by the LGBT+ community and the potential for transforming Indian family law to provide equal rights for all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The study aims to contribute to inform future policy and legal reforms towards equality and inclusiveness.


Dr. Miriam Zucker, “Culturalizing Gender-Based Violence: Comparative Perspectives on the Role of the State in the Vulnerability of Minority Women and Girls to Oppressive Marriage Arrangements”

In 2015, with the introduction of Bill S-7, the “Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act,” Canada joined other countries in responding to forced marriage practices through a heavy-handed interventionist approach, doubling down on criminalization and restrictive immigration laws. This paper critically examines these legal trends and identifies their understated function as a new form of colonial violence. It offers some alternatives in family law and child welfare law that might better serve women and girls’ interests and needs.

‘Or ‘Emet lecture “The Paradox of Intellectual Property Justice”

'Or 'Emet Lecture: The Paradox of Intellectual Property Justice


Ruth L. Okediji, Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law, Harvard Law School and Co-Director, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University

Ruth L. Okediji is the Jeremiah Smith Jr. Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and Co-Director of Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. Professor Okediji teaches contracts, international intellectual property (IP), patents, copyright, and courses on Biblical Law. She has held distinguished visiting appointments and taught at many institutions including the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, Emory Law School, Duke University School of Law, the University of Hawai’i School of Law, University of Haifa Law School (Israel), Tel Aviv University (Israel), and the University of Tilburg Law School (Netherlands). She has also held a professorial fellowship at the Thomas More Law School at the Australian Catholic University.

Professor Okediji’s research and scholarship examine innovation policy, the digital economy, and global knowledge governance. She advises governments and international organizations on a variety of issues at the intersection of IP, international economic law, and human development. She has authored an extensive array of articles, commissioned papers, and book chapters on the relationship between intellectual property, multilateral trade, and human development. She is widely cited for her scholarship on the design and implementation of IP norms in developing and least-developed countries consistent with human welfare goals and work on legal regimes related to Traditional Knowledge. She has served as a policy advisor to many inter-governmental organizations, regional economic communities, and national governments on the formulation of copyright and patent policies in the digital era, and she has advised governments on the design of legal frameworks for Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge.

Professor Okediji was a member of the United Nations High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines and served as lead expert and negotiator for the WIPO Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works. She was a member of the U.S. National Academies Board on Science, Technology and Policy Committee on the Impact of Copyright Policy on Innovation in the Digital Era, and in 2021 she completed service as Co-Chair of the National Academies Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy Committee on Advancing Commercialization from the Federal Laboratories.

Over the course of her career, Professor Okediji has received many awards and distinctions for teaching, advising, and mentoring. These include Professor Most Likely To Go Beyond the Call of Duty, the Regents Superior Teaching Award, the Student Bar Association’s Outstanding Professor Award, and a two-time recipient of the Harvard Law School’s Women’s Law Association Shatter the Ceiling Award. She was also twice named an honoree of International Women’s Law Day.

Professor Okediji has been named one of the 50 most influential figures in IP by Managing IP and received the 2019 Public Knowledge IP3 Award. Her latest book, Traditional Knowledge and Modern Justice, is forthcoming in 2023.

The ‘Or ‘Emet Lecture is presented annually by Osgoode’s Jack & Mae Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security, with the assistance of the ‘Or ‘Emet Fund. The Fund, which was established in 1976, seeks to promote through public discussion, research and scholarly writing, public and professional appreciation of the significance of religion, ethics, culture and history in the development of the legal system. ‘Or ‘Emet means “the light of truth.”