Date of Award


Document Type


First Advisor

Sara Seck


As concerns about the negative impacts of sanctions on the human rights of civilians and the environment increases, it is necessary to reflect upon the lawfulness and legal status of such measures in international law, and their impact on business enterprises and the field of Business and Human Rights (BHR). While current academic literature tends to focus on implementation, enforcement and business compliance with unilateral and multilateral sanctions, the negative impacts of sanctions on non-state actors and resulting human rights violations are overlooked. Specifically, the relationship between sanctions law and the responsibility of businesses to respect human rights and the duty of states to protect human rights as endorsed by BHR instruments such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises must be examined. This thesis investigates whether sanctions have received any consideration in international BHR normative standards, including whether the state duty to protect human rights as found in the UNGPs is relevant when a home state imposes sanctions either on its own companies operating internationally, or on other TNCs, and whether a corporation can comply with its own responsibility to respect human rights in light of the imposition of sanctions. The thesis concludes with recommendations for policy considerations that must be taken into account in the context of sanctions and BHR in order to fill the sanctions governance gap in BHR guidance tools.