Cees van Dam appointed Endowed Professor of International Business and Human Rights

Cees van Dam has been named Endowed Professor of International Business and Human Rights, with a focus on transforming conflict situations towards a sustainable society. Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) created the new chair aiming to promote research and education on business and human rights. Professor Van Dam will hold this endowed chair, sponsored by Amnesty International Nederland and the Foundation for Peace Sciences (SVW) from 1 April 2014.

Across the globe, there is an increasing focus on the business community’s responsibility for the observance of human rights. In 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council endorsed the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which prescribe what is expected from governments and companies in this respect: governments need to protect citizens against human rights violations by companies, while companies must respect human rights.

The new chair’s aim is to contribute to further elaborating and applying the UN Guidelines and, as a result, contribute to creating a peaceful and sustainable society. For example, it is still insufficiently clear how companies need to apply the principle of due diligence, as laid down in the UN Guidelines. This principle holds that companies should carry out investigations into possible involvement in human rights violations – for example through subsidiaries, business relations or by being active in conflict zones. The companies then have to demonstrate how they will prevent human rights transgressions in the future. If their involvement has led to damages, they need to provide redress and financial compensation to victims. The chair will operate on the crossroads of legal, business-economics and other disciplines. In co-operation with The Partnerships Resource Centre, the chair will be on the lookout for co-operative solutions to the dilemmas faced by companies when they are active in conflict areas.

Cees van Dam is an authority in liability law and human rights and has broad expertise in business and human rights. In addition to RSM, he works for King’s College London and Utrecht University (Molengraaff Institute). He wrote more than 150 publications, including 10 books on national and international law. In 2008, he wrote the book Business and Human Rights. In 2013, Oxford University Press published the second edition of his book European Tort Law, which covers liability law in France, Germany, the UK and the European Union, as well as jurisprudence from the European Court of Human Rights. Together with four other academics, he wrote a letter to the United States Supreme Court in support of the plaintiffs in the case of Kiobel vs. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. in 2012.

Amnesty International is an independent and impartial human-rights organisation with more than three million members and financial supporters in more than 150 countries and territories. Amnesty International investigates human rights abuses and campaigns to bring them to a halt. The organisation works towards a world where everyone enjoys the same rights, as enshrined in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights tools. Amnesty International is independent of any government, political ideology, religion or economic interest. The organisation also investigates the behaviour of companies, while pointing to their responsibility for observance of human rights.

The Foundation for Peace Sciences (SVW)
is an independent foundation, created in October 2004. Through science, the foundation aims to make a positive contribution to the processes of peacebuilding. SVW works on setting up a network of (endowed) chairs at institutions of higher education conducting research into the requirements for peace. Each chair sheds light on these requirements from its own perspective. Through networking and co-operation, the chairs provide society with (new) insights into how to encourage peace processes around the world. In developing this network, SVW works together with NGOs in the spheres of peace, human rights and economic development. In conjunction with UPEACE The Hague, SVW organises the annual Visions on Peace award for Master’s theses. A conference devoted to a topical theme is held in connection with the awarding of the prize.

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is ranked among Europe’s top 10 business schools for education and among the top three for research. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam - a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who carry their innovative mindset into a sustainable future thanks to a first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes. RSM also has offices in the Amsterdam Zuidas business district and in Taipei, Taiwan. 

For more information on RSM or on this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, Media & Public Relations Manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at; Nicole Sprokel, Press Officer at Amnesty International on +31 20 7733677 or by email at; or Ben Schennink, secretary van Stichting Vredeswetenschappen on +31 24 3772436 or by email at

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