Claire Bright


In 2007, I graduated from a double undergraduate degree in French and English Laws and received a prize awarded to “the best student in all years”. The year later, I obtained my Master’s Degree in Private International Law and International Commercial Law from the University Paris I – Sorbonne (with distinction and a merits grant). In 2013, I completed my PhD at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence (with a grant). During my time at the EUI, I co-founded and coordinated of the Working Group on Private International Law, and became the LLM Coordinator, helping redesign the LLM programme and restructure the first year of the PhD programme. As part of this position, I won the institute insertion into the Financial Times’ top law schools review.
My scientific responsibilities also included being a member of the editorial board of the European Journal of Legal Studies. Subsequently, I worked as a Research Assistant at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies of the University of Oxford. After a 6 months maternity leave following the birth of my first child, I started to work as an Associate Lecturer at the University of Oxford Brookes as well as at the University of Coventry where I taught European Law as well as various private law modules. In 2015, I became a lecturer at the London School of Business and Management.
In 2018, after a 9 months maternity leave following the birth of my second child, I successfully applied to the Max Weber Programme at the European University Institute. Upon completion of the programme, I was selected to become a Research Fellow in Business and Human Rights at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law to work on a study for the European Commission on Due Diligence Requirements through the Supply Chains.
In 2019, I joined NOVA, first as an Assistant Professor, and since 2022, as an Associate Professor. I also coordinate the Master’s in Law and Management and am the Sustainability Officer of the Law School.




The research work I have been carrying out throughout my career so far has made a significant contribution to policy developments at the national and European levels throughout the identification of new ways to effectively regulate multinational corporations in order to ensure respect for human rights and environmental standards in their activities and throughout their global supply chains worldwide. In particular, I have been a lead-author of major international policy reports for the European institutions and for international organizations. These include a study commissioned by the the European Parliament on Access to legal remedy for victims of corporate human rights abuses in third countries. The study analysed all relevant cases filed in the EU over a certain period involving corporate-human rights harms allegedly committed by European companies in countries outside of the EU. It identified the barriers on accessing remedy faced by claimants in concrete cases and, on that basis, made several recommendations to the European institutions – which were presented at the European Parliament in January 2019 – several of which were included (with references to the study) in a report from the European Parliament Resolution with recommendations to the European Commission on corporate due diligence and corporate accountability (2020/2129(INL)).

In addition, I was the lead co-authors of a major study (over 1000 pages) commissioned by the European Commission on corporate due diligence requirements in global supply chains published in 2020 which forms the basis of the current legislative developments at the European level. In this study, we developed surveys which gathered responses from over 600 key stakeholders throughout the European Union, carried out over 50 interviews and 10 company case-studies in order to examine current corporate practices on due diligence in Europe. The study highlighted the limitations of soft law and voluntary approaches (that have been predominant so far) in regulating corporate behaviour as just over one-third of business respondents indicated that their companies undertake human rights and environmental due diligence, and in the majority of cases, the due diligence exercise was limited to first-tier suppliers. The second part consisted in the regulatory review in which we undertook an extensive overview of the regulatory landscape across Europe and beyond. Based on our analysis and extensive stakeholder consultation, we identified the options for regulatory interventions at the EU level based on the analysis of the study and extensive stakeholder consultation. In particular, the introduction of a mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence legislation which would require company to identify, prevent and address the adverse human rights and environmental impacts that they can have in their operations and the ones of their business partners throughout their global value chains was perceived as the regulatory option which would yield the greatest positive social, environmental, and human rights impacts. In addition, nearly 70% of companies surveyed anticipated that it would benefit business by providing legal certainty and levelling the playing field by holding all EU competitors to the same standards. The study also highlighted the potential of such type of regulation in improving access to remedies for affected individuals and communities and improving the implementation of due diligence practices and processes by companies.

The study was welcomed by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights which observed that ‘it provides a solid and much needed foundation for enhanced policy and regulatory action to address business-related human rights impacts across sectors and global value chains.’ In addition, in April 2020, the study was presented by EU Commissioner of Justice, Didier Reynders in a webinar organised by the European Parliament’s working group on Responsible Business Conduct, and on the basis of its findings, he announced that the European Commission would table a legislative proposal on mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence. A draft version (the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive) of the text was released by the European Commission in 2022 and is now being discussed as part of the trialogue between the European institutions. The impact of this law on society is significant insofar as it is expected to require EU-based companies as well as non-EU companies generating a certain turnover in the EU to have in place human rights and environmental due diligence processes in order to ensure that they do not cause or contribute to adverse human rights and environmental impacts (including in relation to climate change) in their activities and throughout their global value chains, and address and remedy such impacts. It will therefore have far reaching consequences on human rights and on the planet both within Europe and beyond.



Teaching was one of my major motivations for pursuing an academic career. My passion for teaching is reflected in the strong student evaluations I have received for the courses I have taught and the eLearning Practitioner Prize that I was awarded for use of innovative methodologies in the development and delivery of my courses. I enjoy transferring my research interests into taught courses. At NOVA, I designed a new course on Business, Human Rights and Sustainability which is the first of its type in Portugal andenables students to acquire the skills that are required to exercise the new emerging professions in the field of corporate sustainability and ESG. In addition, I currently supervise 15 master students’ theses, 3 PhD theses and 1 postdoctoral research project.

At the NOVA BHRE, I have created various research groups with young researchers (which include undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as doctoral and postdoctoral researchers) that are involved in the research projects and activities of the centre. For example, last year, I mentored a group of 12 students from the European Law Students’ Association who worked on a report with recommendations to the Portuguese Government for the development of its first National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights. The report was launched by the students in a high level policy roundtable on which featured interventions by the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Heidi Hautala, Portuguese, French and German government representatives, as well as representatives from the private sector, civil society, academia and youth ambassadors.

Moreover, I am invited annually to deliver guest lectures and short courses in my field of specialty in other institutions such as the University Ca’ Foscari in Venice, the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa, the European Inter-University Centre for for Human Rights and Democratisation and the Business and Human Rights Summer School.



The work that I have led at NOVA BHRE has sought to create platform of exchange, providing a regular engagement, notably through research projects, publications and events, with a diverse range of stakeholders including businesses (e.g. the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mota Engil, Jeronimo Martins), non-governmental organizations (NGOs, e.g. IMVF, Oxfam, Caminhos de Infância), governmental agencies (e.g. the Directorate-General for Economic Activities) as well as European and international institutions (e.g. European Commission, European Parliament, the International Labour Organization and the United Nations). For example, I am currently working, together with a group of students, on a project advising a Portuguese NGO to raise awareness on the issue of child labour in supply chains. At the NOVA BHRE, I have been very active at organising high level events (conferences and webinars), in order to facilitate strong connections, exchanges and collaborations between academics from various disciplines, and the various stakeholders of the field. For example, previous events hosted former UN Special Representatives, ambassadors, Portuguese Secretaries of State, and other government representatives, members of the UN, EU policy makers, established scholars from 6 continents, as well as lawyers, business organisations, members of bar associations, trade-unions, and NGOs and the Vice President of the European Parliament, Heidi Hautala, and EU Commissionner for Justice.



In 2020, I founded the NOVA BHRE with the aim to enhance corporate respect for human rights, including labour rights and environmental standards in global value chains, thereby advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. To this aim, the work that I have led as part of the NOVA BHRE has been twofold. First of all, it consists in high impact research which has directly contributed to policy developments promoting responsible business practices, and upholding human rights and environmental standards in global supply chains. Second of all, it consists in awareness-raising and capacity building in order to enhance responsible and sustainable business conduct. In particular, I have been developing and offering training programmes and individual mentorship guidance to companies, government officials, and civil society organizations. For example, as part of a project with the UN Development Programme, I delivered a training in Mozambique in April 2023 to about 40 private companies of different sizes and operating in different sectors in order to help them identify, prevent, mitigate and address their adverse human rights impacts and to raise awareness on the applicable legal framework. In October 2023 and January 2024, I also delivered 4 session Tunisia as part of a similar project to about 40 public companies and members of the Tunisian Government. Moreover, I organised awareness-raising sessions that were delivered to about 150 members of the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce.



My research work has focused on an analysis of the regulatory framework and case-law on corporate accountability for human rights and environmental harms so as to inform policy developments. It has resulted in multiple publications in 5 languages in leading peer-reviewed scientific journals. Furthermore, I have presented my research in over a hundred international conferences and webinars across 4 continents.
In addition, I have contributed to various expert studies and policy reports for Governments, NGOs, as well as for the European institutions (European Commission and European Parliament), for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other European and international organizations. In addition to the above-mentioned studies for the European Commission and the European Parliament which led to the current policy developments at the EU level, I have notably worked on the following selected pieces:
– A 2020 study for the Working Group on Corporate Accountability on the Options for Mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence in Belgium which forms the basis of a legislative proposal currently being discussed in Belgium.
– A 2020 study on the concept of safe harbour for the GIZ which informed the German Government on the liability/safe harbour provisions of the German Due Diligence in Supply Chains Act.
– 2021 study for the ILO mapping and evaluating human rights due diligence legislation to inform policy makers.
– A 2021 study on trade policy and child labour entitled “50 Billions Euros: Europe’s Child Labor Footprint in 2019”, prepared for the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament in which I analysed the legal framework in relation to the issue of Child Labour in Global Supply Chains to inform policy developments.
– A 2022 study for the United Nations Development Programme on Responsible Business Conduct in Mozambique, where I analysed the human rights risks in various sectors of activities.
– A 2023 report for the Tunisian Government on the adoption of a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights in Tunisia. I drafted this report as part of a research project coordinated by the United Nations Development Programme. It was complemented by a capacity building session which took place at the ENA (National Administration School on the 2nd of February 2024) with members of the Tunisian Government in which I gave recommendations based on existing examples in comparative law of National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights.

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