n South African Journal on Human Rights - Human rights litigation against companies in South African courts : a response to 2011 (3) SA 237 (CC)

Volume 27, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0258-7203



Human rights traditionally protect individuals against the state. Governments are powerful entities, with legislative, executive and judicial force on their side. Human rights protect individual members of society against this government power. Companies, on the other hand, are separate, private legal entities. Within the traditional theoretical framework, they are not burdened with the same legal responsibilities of protecting and promoting human rights as governments. Unless performing a state function, they have no distinct place in public law. The emergence of influential multi-national corporations, some with larger turnovers than the gross domestic product (GDP) of smaller nations, has shown us that this traditional approach increasingly falls short of realistic needs.

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