The Citizens United and Hobby Lobby decisions of the US Supreme Court stoked the longstanding controversy over the court’s doctrine that corporations are persons entitled to certain constitutional rights on the same basis as citizens. It is less widely noted that, in some fields of international economic law, firms are increasingly considered not just legal persons but bearers of human rights. This article critically examines the incipient arrogation of human rights discourse in the context of international investment arbitration, where the claims of firms are often articulated and adjudicated with language and standards borrowed from human rights law. This development, which the article describes as the dehumanization of human rights, is part of a larger process whereby international economic institutions accord legal recognition and certain protections to private economic actors. The article traces the important implications of business corporations being considered as bearers of human rights for determining the proper scope and purpose of international human rights norms, and for conceptualizing their relationship to constitutional democracy.


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pp. 294-349
Launched on MUSE
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