Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Creating a Ratings System for Business Compliance with the OHCHR Accountability and Remedy (ARP) III Project--The Penn State CSR Lab 2020

Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2020

As I have written before, one of my great pleasures in teaching at Penn State has been their kindness in allowing me to develop and teach a course in the law of Corporate Social Responsibility (or as we sometimes debate in class, the law of responsible business conduct) (discussed HERE: Teaching "Corporate Social Responsibility Law and Policy": CSR in the Future Tense; A Syllabus 4.0). 

Pix © Larry Catá Backer (Thousand Buddhist Stele; N.Zhou c. 557-581 AD
The course was designed to bring a small group of students together to dig deep into the structures of the legalization of risk and its embedding in compliance and normative systems expressed through national, international, transnational, and private legal orders.  That study  is undertaken by close research into the way that assigned enterprises operate in the increasingly complex law-norm ecology of responsible business conduct (understood within the contexts of labor, development, human, and sustainability abd climate change principles and rights). The context has been made even more interesting by the increasing intensity in changes in the way that law and governance area manifested in this area--from a singular reliance on formal law and administrative regulation to private law and data driven governance.

This year has presented additional challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.  In lieu of intense face to face meeting we are presented with the complexities of remote instruction and remote interaction.  In this context I thought it would help bring students closer to the materials and to develop class solidarity to provide the class with a challenging extra credit project that would also serve (for those interested) as a high intensity capstone.

With that in mind the Penn State CSR Lab 2020 was born. It is the continuation of a project started in 2018, as an informally constituted collective of graduate students undertaking the study of corporate social responsibility. They include Law Students and graduates seeking the LL.M. degree at Penn State Law, and graduate students enrolled in the School of International Affairs working under the guidance of Larry Catá Backer and with the assistance of the Coalition for Peace & Ethics  The Penn State CSR Lab produced a Report in 2018 on non-state grievance mechanisms in the context of early work undertaken by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (see HERE). For 2020, the will include graduate students drawn from class interested in undertaking a substantial project.  This year the project will be to create and operate a rating system for the OHCHR Accountability and Remedy (ARP) III Project. Undertaken at the request of the Human Rights Council to the OHCHR in 2018 (resolution 38/13 by consensus), the ARP III Project was charged 
"to identify and analyse challenges, opportunities, best practices and lessons learned with regard to non-state-based grievance mechanisms that are relevant to the respect by business enterprises for human rights, . . . and to submit a report thereon to the Human Rights Council for consideration at its forty-fourth session." (OP 9, emphasis added)
The ARP III Final Report described the universe of nARP-3_CSR_Lab_XtraCreditF2020on-state non-judicial remedial mechanisms and recommended steps to be taken by states and businesses to implement a series of actions described in Parts II and III of the Annex (Report pp. 11-19) in the form of 16 policy objectives.
By the completion of the project, Penn State’s CSR Lab 2020 will (1) develop a concept paper touching on the need for, construction, methodology and use of an ARP III rating system for enterprises; (2) Produce a methodology justified by and through the great principles of the UNGP; (3) describe the way in which data warehouses will be managed and used; (4) apply the rating system to an initial group of enterprises; (5) produce a Report detailing the results of that first rating application along with recommendations for internal improvement and external responses to the rating; and (6) consider recommendations for strengthening the public and private law systems with respect to which the key factors that produce the ratings are based.

Although our goals are ambitious, it is my hope that much learning can occur as we try to meet the challenge of this project! The full instructions and brief background may be accessed HERE:ARP-3_CSR_Lab_XtraCreditF2020 . We welcome allies and help.

No comments: