Natural Resources and Human Rights

Commercial interests in exploration and extraction of natural resources in Arctic areas are on the rise, owing to climatic changes making access easier in some respects as well as technological advancements and local demand for industrial development. Focusing particularly on organizational processes and the knowledge needed to identify and manage human rights impacts, the course will address the topic from a global perspective and draw on lecturers, examples and cases from the Global South to the Arctic.


Natural resources offer significant sources of employment and income for individuals, communities and states. Their use may cause a range of societal impacts, of which many are positive but others are more problematic. Among the latter, human rights impacts constitute particular. Private as well as public organizations involved in the broad variety of natural resource usage, exploitation, preservation and administration need to understand the variety and complexity of human rights in order to identify and manage adverse human rights impacts, and maximize positive impacts as elements in the governance of natural resources.

Some of the typical issues and concerns of human rights pertinence include failures to design and implement processes to allow stakeholders to understand impacts and express their views; decision-making that disregards the views and concerns of affected stakeholders; environmental pollution causing health impacts; changed or expanded use of forests or land, impacting the practices, culture and sustenance of local communities and often involving tenure rights conflicts; labour abuse; and inadequate remedy in terms of access, process and substance. The development of infrastructure for exploitation or transport of natural resources or cultivation of new resources may also offer societal benefits, some of which can be of human rights relevance and contribute towards the full realization of human rights (for example, improved practices for labour protection, vocational training or other capacity building, or empowerment by building strong participation, voice and remedy processes and institutions).

In line with recent years’ fast growing theory, normative guidance and practice on business and human rights, the risks or opportunities of natural resource exploration use or non-use call for processes to explore impacts, both harmful and beneficial, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders. This is significant for organizations to manage adverse impacts by preventing or mitigating and remedying them, to maximize positive impacts, and in both cases to account for their processes and outcomes. This applies whether we look at the governance of non-renewable resources, such hydrocarbons, rare earth minerals or gems; or renewable resources, such as agri-products, marine products, animal husbandry, forests/timber or renewable energy. The goal of the course is to equip students with the theoretical foundations for engaging in these tasks as employees in or service providers to private or public organizations.


The course targets PhD students with an interest in the societal impact of the exploration, extraction and other forms of use or non-use of renewable or non-renewable natural resources. The course is open to PhD students from all disciplines, in recognition of the fact that the intersection between natural resources and societal impacts connects to or has relevance to several scientific disciplines. The course is taught from a social science perspective, but students specializing in natural or other disciplinary perspectives are welcome and will enrich debates and the course in general.


DKK 6,500 (covers the course, coffee/tea, lunch and one dinner)

Funding support

Thanks to a grant from the Danish government for the network project under which the course is co-organised (UArctic Thematic Network on Arctic Sustainable Resources and Social Responsibility (TN ASRSR)), limited support is available for travel and/or accommodation and/or living expenses for participants who can document the need. Participants are expected to rely on own funds, if available, or to apply for mobility funds from their institutions or through other available sources, e.g. north2north for students from universities that are members of UArctic. Those who do not have access to such funds to fully cover their expenses may apply. Funds will be dispersed to the extent available.

Contact information

For information on formalities etc: Katja Høeg Tingleff,

For information on course contents: Professor Karin Buhmann,


For more information on the course, prerequisites and instructions on how to apply, click here. (registration link at the bottom of the page)

Course details

Academic level(s)PhD
Language of instructionEnglish
InstitutionCopenhagen Business School
Begin date10.12.2018
End date14.12.2018
Registration deadline05.09.2018
ECTS credits5.0
Field schoolNo
Fields of studyBusiness and administration (others)
Teaching placeCopenhagen
Tagsresourceshuman rightsextractive industries
Find out more