This Blog Essay site devotes every February to a series of integrated but short essays on a single theme. The Ruminations Series in 2009 produced a month long series of aphoristic (ἀφορισμός) essays, meant to provoke thought rather than explain it. The hope was that, built up on each other, the series would provide a matrix of thoughts that together might lead the reader in new directions.
For 2010, this site introduces a new series--Business and Human Rights. The series takes as its starting point the issues and questions raised by John Ruggie, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on business and human rights, in a global online forumThe U.N. "Protect, Respect, Remedy" framework is made up of three pillars: the State duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business; the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, which means to avoid infringing on the rights of others; and greater access by victims to effective remedy, judicial and non-judicial. The forum is currently focused on the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, the second pillar of the framework. The forum is divided into sections, each of which contains multiple topics with space for discussion and comment.New Online Forum for U.N. Business and Human Rights Mandate, United Nations Press Release, New York and Geneva, Dec. 1, 2009. Each of the Essays will consider one of the topics raised in the online consultation. My hope is to help generate discussion and to encourage further discussion of the issues within the framework fo the consultation framework.
Part XXVII: On the Limits of the State Duty to Protect.
Mr. Bethlehem has helped highlight the importance of the Second Pillar of the framework. He reminds us that even the most aggressive acknowledgment of state power will tend to flounder on state ideology with respect to its relationship to the international community. The United Kingdom, like the United States, tends to view its own domestic power as substantially unlimited by the rules it might freely choose to undertake constructed from outside the national territory or its governance organs. In that reality, international standards are more likely to be respected by corporations than protected by even the most developed states. Polycentricity produces a greater coverage in both scope and form of governance. Irony indeed!