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Human Rights in Public Procurement

Protecting them Properly?

Ragnhild Lunner


Keywords: Public procurement, human rights, life-cycle cost, technical specifications, fair trade

The increased focus on sustainability in public procurement is reflected in the revised EU public procurement directives from 2014. However, even though the EU lawmakers have underlined the importance of enabling smart, inclusive and sustainable growth, and aspired to provide a tool box for contract authorities who would like to do so, the lack of clear guidance may lead to the scope of action not being used. It may even impede contracting authorities from taking human rights issues and sustainable development into account when procuring goods, services and works. This article analyses some of the developments and innovations in the public procurement Directive 2014/24/EU, hereunder technical specifications, life-cycle costing and exclusion, with the aim of commenting on obstacles and opportunities with regards to promoting human rights through the public procurement process.
Keywords: Public procurement; Human rights; Life-cycle cost; Technical specifications; Fair trade

Ragnhild Lunner is an Associate at Føyen Torkildsen law firm. This article is based on the author’s master’s thesis ‘The consideration of human rights in public procurement. Norwegian contracting authorities’ legal scope of action to promote respect for human rights in the procurement process’, University of Oslo (2018) (available in Norwegian at The author would like to warmly thank Professor Beate Sjåfjell and Anja Wiesbrock, thesis supervisors.


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