Thesaurus : Doctrine

RACINE, Jean-Baptiste🕴️

📝Obligation de Compliance et droits humains (Compliance Obligation and Human Rights​), in 🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche (dir.), 📕L'obligation de Compliance

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â–ş Full Reference: J.-B. Racine, "Obligation de Compliance et droits humains" ("Compliance Obligation and Human Rights"), in M.-A. Frison-Roche (dir.), L'Obligation de ComplianceJournal of Regulation & Compliance (JoRC) and Dalloz, "RĂ©gulations & Compliance" Serie, 2024, to be published.


đź“•read a general presentation of the book, L'Obligation de Compliance, in which this article is published


â–ş English Summary of the article (done by the Journal of Regulation & Compliance - JoRC) : The author asks whether human rights can, over and above the many compliance obligations, form the basis of the Compliance Obligation. The consideration of human rights corresponds to the fundamentalisation of Law, crossing both Private and Public Law, and are considered by some as the matrix of many legal mechanisms, including international ones. They prescribe values that can thus be disseminated.

Human rights come into direct contact with Compliance Law as soon as Compliance Law is defined as "the internalisation in certain operators of the obligation to structure themselves in order to achieve goals which are not natural to them, goals which are set by public authorities responsible for the future of social groups, goals which these companies must willingly or by force aim to achieve, simply because they are in a position to achieve them". These "Monumental Goals" converge on human beings, and therefore the protection of their rights by companies. 

In a globalised context, the State can either act through mandatory regulations, or do nothing, or force companies to act through Compliance Law. For this to be effective, tools are needed to enable 'crucial' operators to take responsibility ex ante, as illustrated in particular by the French law on the Vigilance Obligation of 2017.

This obligation takes the form of both a "legal obligation", expression which is quite  imprecise, found for example in the duty of vigilance of the French 2017 law, and in a more technical sense through an obligation that the company establishes, in particular through contracts.

Legal obligations are justified by the fact that the protection of human rights is primarily the responsibility of States, particularly in the international arena. Even if it is only a question of Soft Law, non-binding Law, this tendency can be found in the Ruggie principles, which go beyond the obligation of States not to violate human rights, to a positive obligation to protect them effectively. The question of whether this could apply not only to States but also to companies is hotly debated. If we look at the ICSID Urbaser v. Argentina award of 2016, the arbitrators accepted that a company had an obligation not to violate human rights, but rejected an obligation to protect them effectively. In European Law, the GDPR, DSA and AIA, and in France the so-called Vigilance law, use Compliance Lools, often Compliance by Design, to protect human rights ex ante.

Contracts, particularly through the inclusion of multiple clauses in often international contracts, express the "privatisation" of human rights. Care should be taken to ensure that appropriate sanctions are associated with them and that they do not give rise to situations of contractual imbalance. The relationship of obligation in tort makes it necessary to articulate the Ex Ante logic and the Ex Post logic and to conceive what the judge can order.

The author concludes that "la compliance oblige Ă  remodeler les catĂ©gories classiques du droit dans l’optique de les adosser Ă  l’objectif mĂŞme de la compliance : non pas uniquement un droit tournĂ© vers le passĂ©, mais un droit ancrĂ© dans les enjeux du futur ; non pas un droit Ă©manant exclusivement de la contrainte publique, mais un droit s’appuyant sur de la normativitĂ© privĂ©e ; non pas un droit strictement territorialisĂ©, mais un droit apprĂ©hendant l’espace transnational" ("Compliance requires us to reshape the classic categories of Law with a view to bringing them into line with the very objective of Compliance: not just a Law turned towards the past, but a Law anchored in the challenges of the future; not a Law emanating exclusively from public constraint, but a Law based on private normativity; not a strictly territorialised Law, but a law apprehending the transnational space".


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