Looks like regulation to me – Commission draft guidance consultation on the ‘Corporate Responsibility to Respect’

The UN Guiding principles on business and human rights were adopted in 2011, after having been developed by prof John Ruggie and team. The aim of the principles effectively (and in my view) is to create a halfway house between full duties (and rights?) of multinational corporations under public international law (especially in the human rights and environmental field), on the one hand, and complete lack of accountability of those MNCs under the same law, on the other.

CSR originally was firmly meant as a market-based instrument for sustainable development. Ignoring the alleged mistakes of a command and control approach to sustainable development, CSR would allow companies voluntarily to gain a proactive sustainable development profile, thus gaining consumer appreciation, whence serving the three P’s: People, Planet, Profit. As so often, though, these market-based instruments gradually look ever more like the command and control approach which they profess to despise.

Exactly this is happening to the UN Guiding Principles, at least as further developed by the European Commission. It is in the process of formulating sector-specific guidance [for employment and recruitment agencies; ICT; and oil and gas] for companies to implement the UN Guiding principles. This may mean either that command and control approaches to sustainable development are not half as bad as they are made out to be; and /or that in the end, voluntarism in sustainable development will never be enough to help achieve it.


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