Optional Module (5 ECTS)


This module is one of the optional modules offered in the spring semester of studies in the area of public international law although it is also open for selection by all students, including especially those interested in corporate or labour law. The course discusses in considerable depth the presence of businesses in a globalized market and their impact on human rights, labour rights, environmental concerns and sustainable development.


The course aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the human rights implications of business activities. Upon completion of the course, the student will be able to:

  • understand the institutional structures and processes in the field
  • understand and approach the rules, policies, and principles of this area of international law in a critical and analytical manner
  • discuss the major challenges and latest developments in the field
  • interpret legal sources, including treaties, case-law and literature, in the field
  • identify and resolve legal problems pertaining to the business activities in a globalized world


The course builds upon the foundations of human rights law in order to discuss the impact businesses have on human rights. Starting with the discussion of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and closely following the negotiations for an International Legally Binding Instrument on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises, the course follows the latest developments in the field, taking also into consideration the practical application of Corporate Social Responsibility obligations. At the end of the semester, the students are expected to be conversant with issues of advanced legal reasoning with every-day practical implications at the business level.

Academic Requirements

Participants are expected to have basic previous knowledge of Public International Law. Current knowledge of corporate or labour law would also be welcomed.

Teaching method

This course is taught in weekly two-hour interactive, discussion-based seminars, which requires a high level of student participation. Basic and further reading lists will be circulated prior to the classes. Students are expected to make presentations and participate in the seminars by replying and discussing short problem and essay questions. They may also be asked to contribute to the seminars with short work assignments.


The course is taught by Associate Professor Maria Gavouneli.

Assessment and testing

  • Final written exam, open-book, essay questions - 2 hours (50%)
  • Mid-term paper assignment - (20%)
  • Class participation with presentations and participation in joint exercises - (30%)