Incorporating Rights

Strategies to Advance Corporate Accountability

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Human rights have not been a central concern of corporate law. Corporate actors have not been a central concern of international human rights law. This book examines existing and emerging strategies that could conceivably close a global governance gap that places human rights at risk and puts commercial actors in the position of becoming complicit in human rights abuses or implicated in abuses when conducting business in emerging market economies or other complex environments. Corporate codes of conduct, sustainability reporting, and selected multi-stakeholder initiatives are presented as the building blocks of a system of strengthening “soft law” that could solidify to become binding baseline standards for better business practices. It explains the conditions that have given rise to constructive change as well as those methods and mechanisms with promise for ensuring that business enterprises incorporate human rights considerations into business operations.

This book explores how capital and consumer markets could provide an additional or alternative form of enforcement to promote responsible business conduct. It provides comparative accounts of the creation of industry sector specific regulatory instruments and governance institutions arising from allegations of corporate complicity in human rights abuses after conflicts with concerned constituencies and affected communities. It considers market- based strategies to bring business practices into alignment with the responsibility to respect human rights and examines how corporate social responsibility initiatives could close the governance gap and how codes of conduct could come to regulate like real rules. It argues that regulation through information is essential to ensure that corporate conduct will be informed by human rights considerations and that business policies and practices will be implemented consistent with respect for human rights.