Saturday, January 15, 2011

Harmonizing Transnational Corporate Governance--Communication Among CSR Soft Law Framework Systems

One of the most interesting developments in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the elaboration of chains of authority among the very distinct frameworks that are being developed by both public and private international organizations.  Private actors tend to produce networks of systems that are informally connected and which seek through communication and overlap to move toward convergence.  Theirs tends to be a functional approach to CSR, arranged within orders that are informal and tied to norm-governance frameworks. Public actors tend toward the construction of more formally institutionalized relationship, arranged within an order that tends to be vertically oriented and ultimately tied to the law-state system.  The object here is convergence.

Change Management focuses on people to ensure that change is brought about smoothly, effectively, and with minimum resistance. Our Change Management activities are directed toward the identification and mitigation of the people-oriented risks associated with accomplishing the change objectives. (From PBSI, Change Leadership /Management).

Recently the United Nations has been taking more active steps to suggest the relationship between the U.N. Global Compact and two potentially influential efforts to elaborate CSR governance  frameworks.  The first is between the Global Compact and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), International Standard ISO 26000 Guidance on Social Responsibility. See United Nations Global Compact, An Introduction to Linkages Between UN Global Compact and ISO 26000 Core Subjects (2011).  The second is between the Global Compact and the Global Reporting Initiative and its G3 Guidelines.  See, UN Global Compact and Global Reporting Initiative Form Strategic Alliance  (2006).

The ISO is a hybrid organization.  It is private in the sense that it is not the creature of any state, or of the conventional complex of international organizations.  On the other hand, many of its members are agents of states.  ISO thus describes itself as
the world's largest developer and publisher of International Standards.  ISO is a network of the national standards institutes of 163 countries, one member per country, with a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, that coordinates the system. ISO is a non-governmental organization that forms a bridge between the public and private sectors. On the one hand, many of its member institutes are part of the governmental structure of their countries, or are mandated by their government. On the other hand, other members have their roots uniquely in the private sector, having been set up by national partnerships of industry associations. (ISO, About ISO).
The ISO's organization reflects both its hybrid character and a necessary complexity govern the ambitions of its programs straddling public and private governance realms.   Its 163 members are divided into three categories, Member bodies, correspondent members and Subscriber members.  (ISO, ISO Members).  A member body "of ISO is the national body "most representative of standardization in its country". " (ISO, ISO Member Bodies).  A correspondent member "is usually an organization in a country which does not yet have a fully-developed national standards activity."  (ISO, ISO Correspondent Bodies) It information but not participation rights.  (Id.). In the United States, the member body is the American National Standards Institute, whose "membership is comprised of a broad range of businesses and industrial organizations, standards setting and conformity assessment bodies, trade associations, labor unions, professional societies, consumer groups, academia, and government organizations " (ISO, About ISO, ISO Members, USA ANSI).  Norway's member body, Standards Norway, follows a similar model.  On the other hand, for example,  the Ukrainian member body, the State Committee of Ukraine on Technical Regulation and Consumer Policy, is a governmental agency, as is the Standardization Administration of China, and the Russian Federal Agency on Technical Regulating and Metrology.  Brazil's Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicasis is a hybrid private body subject to special legislation, as is the Standards Institution of Israel (a public non profit statutory organization).

The Global Reporting Initiative is a network of private actors with substantially fewer  formal or informal connection to the law-state system.  It describes itself as 
a network-based organization that pioneered the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting framework. GRI is committed to the Framework’s continuous improvement and application worldwide. GRI’s core goals include the mainstreaming of disclosure on environmental, social and governance performance.(From Global Reporting Initiative, About GRI, What is GRI?).

Like the ISO, the GRI develops standards from the bottom up, "through a consensus-seeking, multi-stakeholder process. Participants are drawn from global business, civil society, labor, academic and professional institutions."  (Id.). The heart of the GRIU organization are its participating organizations, each of which participates in governance and contributes financially to the organization. GRI, then, is an organization of organizations--in a sense very much like a private version of classical international organizations, which are constituted as an supra-national organization of politically constituted nations.  GRI's "Organizational Stakeholder (OS) Program is located at the center of the global multi-stakeholder network that constitutes GRI. By putting their name to the GRI mission, products and processes, and broadening participation around sustainability and transparency, OS provide a key basis for legitimacy to GRI and reinforce our common commitment as a network to change." (GRI, Join GRI/OS).

ISO Standard 26000, Guidance on Social Responsibility, is described as a "harmonized, globally relevant guidance for private and public sector organizations of all types based on international consensus among expert representatives of the main stakeholder groups, and so encourage the implementation of best practice in social responsibility worldwide."  ISO, ISO Standard 26000, Project Overview.  The objectives of ISO 26000 include the development of international consensus on the meaning of CSR, developing guidance principles for the implementation of a consensus derived framework for CSR, and controlling the evolution and implementation of CSR best practices. (Id.).

The Global Compact organization has noted the most significant points of harmonization between its principles based framdework and the functional project of the ISO 26000 project as follows:

1.  Human Rights
The UN Global Compact Principles 1-2
PRINCIPLE 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights.
PRINCIPLE 2: Businesses should make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.
ISO 26000, Human Rights  (6.3), Issues 1-8
1. Due diligence 2. Human rights risk situations 3. Avoidance of complicity 4. Resolving grievances 5. Discrimination and vulnerable groups 6. Civil and political rights 7. Economic, social and cultural rights 8. Fundamental principles and rights at work.   (An Introduction to Linkages Between UN Global Compact and ISO 26000 Core Subjects, supra, at 4)

B. Labour
The UN Global Compact Principles  3-6
PRINCIPLE 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.
PRINCIPLE 4: Businesses should uphold the elimination of forced or compulsory labour. PRINCIPLE 5: Businesses should uphold the effective abolition of child labour. PRINCIPLE 6: Businesses should uphold the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
ISO 26000, Human Rights  (6.3), Issue 8
8. Fundamental principles and rights at work Box 7: Child labour
ISO 26000, Labour  Practices (6.4), Issues 1-5
1. Employment and employment relationships 2. Conditions of work and social protection 3. Social dialogue 4. Health and safety at work
5. Human development and training in the workplace   (An Introduction to Linkages Between UN Global Compact and ISO 26000 Core Subjects, supra, at 7)

C. Environment
The Global Compact Principles 7-9
PRINCIPLE 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges PRINCIPLE 8: Businesses should undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility
PRINCIPLE 9: Businesses should encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies
ISO 26000, The Environment (6.5), Issues 1-4
1. Prevention of pollution 2. Sustainable resource use 3. Climate change mitigation and adaptation 4. Protection and restoration of the natural environment (An Introduction to Linkages Between UN Global Compact and ISO 26000 Core Subjects, supra, at 11)

D. Anti-Corruption
The UN Global Compact Principle 10
PRINCIPLE 10: Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.
ISO 26000, Fair Operating Practices (6.6), Issues 1, 2, 4
1. Anti-corruption 2. Responsible political involvement 4. Promoting social responsibility in the value chain (An Introduction to Linkages Between UN Global Compact and ISO 26000 Core Subjects, supra, at 14).
Sphere of Influence ("we have examined ‘Sphere of Influence’, which is a key concept that relates to all 10 of the UN Global Compact principles. The Global Compact asks companies to embrace, support and enact, within their sphere of influence, a set of core values in the areas of human rights, labour standards, the environment, and anti-corruption. "). Module: SPHERE OF INFLUENCE Section: Review of Learning

The GRI-Global Compact initiatives  evidence a similar effort at institutional convergence.  "The UN Global Compact and GRI announced an important collaboration and signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 28 May 2010 at the Amsterdam Global Conference on Sustainability and Transparency. A special event was then held during the UNGC Leaders Summit in New York on 24 June 2010, to highlight this collaboration between the UNGC and GRI and begin action. " See, GRI, UNGC and GRI enter into a new alliance (May 28, 2010). "The GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines (G3) can be used to produce the Global Compact’s annually required Communication on Progress (COP). The COP is the mechanism through which UNGC participating companies demonstrate progress towards attainment of the ten UNGC Principles. "  Id.
Under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding signed on 28 May 2010, GRI, subject to due process, will integrate the Global Compact’s ten principles and issue areas centrally in the next iteration of its Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. At the same time, the Global Compact will adopt the GRI Guidelines as the recommended reporting framework for companies to communicate on progress made. The two initiatives will also join forces to develop guidance on the use of GRI for the Global Compact and collaborate at the local level on outreach and training.

The alliance, articulated during the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2010, is a crucial step in ensuring convergence in the area of corporate sustainability and will allow both initiatives to focus on their respective and complementary strengths – the Global Compact’s mainstreaming of universal principles and UN goals in business, and the GRI’s comprehensive reporting framework. (From UN Global Compact, News Release, GRI and UN Global Compact Forge New Alliance, 24 June 2010)

 In both cases, the Global Compact suggests  both convergence, and the organization of that convergence under the leadership of the United Nations.  Thus, for example, the subordinate position of the ISO 26000 standards are made clear in the introduction to the Global Compact's Linkages document.  "The release of “ISO 26000: Guidance standard on social responsibility” gives a boost to ongoing efforts by the UN Global Compact to establish widespread common understanding of corporate responsibility principles. ISO 26000 and the UN Global Compact are connected by a fundamental belief that organizations should behave in a socially responsible way."  (An Introduction to Linkages Between UN Global Compact and ISO 26000 Core Subjects, supra, at 1).  Indeed, there is an intimation that the ISO Standards are legitimate and worthy precisely because they conform to the United Nation's standards.   
 This short publication provides a high-level overview of the key linkages between the UN Global Compact’s Ten Principles and the core subjects of social responsibility defined by ISO 26000 (human rights, labour practices, the environment, fair operating practices, consumer issues, community involvement). While not an exhaustive review of the numerous areas of alignment between the two initiatives, this publication shows that there is clear consistency – and that all UN Global Compact Principles are included in ISO 26000. (Id.).

These efforts suggest the importance, not so much of convergence, but of institutional engagements over precedence and influence in the construction and management of systems of economic governance.  But it also suggests something more.  With respect to GRI, it also evidences a drive to discipline manage private governance within a public institutional framework, that is, to domesticate private governance within the umbrella of the law-state system in its supra national forms, suggests the contours of a struggle for control over the levers of governance between public and private governance organs as the push toward institutionalizing supra national economic governance moves forward. 

More importantly, these recent efforts suggest both the utility of public and private projects for the the  construction of CSR frameworks and the importance of supra national public actors as the institutional framework through which these substantive governance  rules can be managed and implemented.  See, e.g., Earth Charter in Business: New Guidance Paper on the Earth Charter, GRI and Global Compact (March 2, 2008).

The next great project will be to harmonize these efforts with the Protect-Respect-Remedy framework for business and human rights, the general principles of which are being considered by the United Nations this coming April.  According to John Ruggie, its principle architect, the Protect-Respect-Remedy framework has already taken on a life of its own.  See, Hugh Williamson, Conflict zone pressure rises on companies,, Jan. 12, 2011.
John Ruggie, United Nations special representative for business and human rights, told a London audience on Tuesday evening that a framework of tougher standards he had drafted “has acquired a life of its own” even before it is voted on in the UN’s Human Rights Council in June. . . .
The draft framework is included in ISO26000, a new international industry standard on social responsibility, and is likely to be part of revised guidelines on MNCs produced by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Mr Ruggie said. There has also been an “outburst of activity among leading companies to determine if their policies are ‘Ruggie-proof’,” and export credit agencies are considering the framework, the UN envoy added. (Id.).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

quello che stavo cercando, grazie