Saturday, September 14, 2013

New Paper Posted: "Democratizing International Business and Human Rights by Catalyzing Strategic Litigation: The Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the U.N. Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights From the Bottom Up"

The University of West Virginia College of Law will be hosting its inaugural business and human rights conference, Business and Human Rights: Moving Forward, Looking Back, to be held September 23 – 24, 2013 at the West Virginia University College of Law, Morgantown, WV. The conference chair, Jena Martin has put together a marvelous program on a very current and important project.

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)

I will be presenting a paper at that conference, co-authored with Keren Wang, a PhD candidate at Penn State, Tono Teraoka, a Ph.D. student at the University of Tokyo ansd Nabih Hadadd, a Ph.D. student ay Michigan State University, which we have titled "Democratizing International Business and Human Rights by Catalyzing Strategic Litigation: The Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the U.N. Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights From the Bottom Up." In it we consider a project of democratizing the project of business and human rights and developing strategies through which stakeholders at the lower ends of the human rights value and supply chains and usually the objects of human rights largesse, may more actively participate in the protection of their human rights and engage more actively in the development of those norms meant to protect them.

The conference draft is now available through the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) HERE and the abstract follows below. We would be grateful for comments and suggestions.

Larry Catá Backer, Nabih Haddad, Tomonori Teraoka, Keren Wang

Abstract: With the June 2011 endorsement of the U.N. Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights by the U.N. Human Rights Council, the international community entered a new phase in the approach to the important work of developing global norms for economic activity with human rights impacts, irrespective of the states in which these occur. But the business and human rights project still privileges the state and the elite communities of enterprises, lawyers and civil society organizations that form the networks of norm creation and operationalization on which the objects of human rights discourse are dependent. To effectively implement the Guiding Principles requires an empowerment of all stakeholders down the supply and value chain. This empowerment must naturalize the substantive norms embedded in the Guiding Principles into the cultures of business activity shared by all stakeholders. This article, then, elaborates our initial framework for a three-phase approach for the Democratizing Human Rights/Catalyzing Strategic Litigation (DHR/CSL) initiative, which begins with knowledge production centered on focused toolkits, followed by the education/knowledge transmission phase that involves deployment of knowledge-product as toolkits through student centered training, education, and technical assistance; finally, the project will move towards the operationalization phase where large networks of stakeholders can both effectively and sustainably enforce business due diligence through the implementation of litigation/complaint strategies. The combination of knowledge creation, education/technical assistance and targeted litigation/complaint strategies may serve to overcome the problem of evolving the current development of business and human rights project from a bauble for the use of global elites and as an instrumental project to protect the privilege of states to a mechanics of asserting popular power through the mechanics of markets and the invocation of the international procedures which states themselves are bound to honor.

Key words: business due diligence, corporate social responsibility, education, human rights, international law, knowledge management, knowledge spiral cluster, nonprofit organizations, OECD, strategic litigation, Guiding Principles Business and Human Rights, Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, NGO, governance, soft law, national contact points, human rights due diligence, toolkits
JEL classifications: D63, D8, F53, I2, J8, K33, K41, L17, L3, M14

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