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Business Ethics Quarterly

Volume 22, Issue 1, January 2012
Human Rights and Business

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Displaying: 1-10 of 13 documents


1. Business Ethics Quarterly: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
Denis G. Arnold, From the Editor
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2. Business Ethics Quarterly: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
Wesley Cragg, Denis G. Arnold, Peter Muchlinski, Guest Editors’ Introduction: Human Rights and Business
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We provide a brief history of the business and human rights discourse and scholarship, and an overview of the articles included in the special issue.
3. Business Ethics Quarterly: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
Wesley Cragg, Ethics, Enlightened Self-Interest, and the Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights: A Critical Look at the Justificatory Foundations of the UN Framework
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Central to the United Nations Framework setting out the human rights responsibilities of corporations proposed by John Ruggie is the principle that corporations have a responsibility to respect human rights in their operations whether or not doing so is required by law and whether or not human rights laws are actively enforced. Ruggie proposes that corporations should respect this principle in their strategic management and day-to-day operations for reasons of corporate (enlightened) self-interest. This paper identifies this as a serious weakness and argues that identifying the responsibility to respect human rights as an explicitly ethical obligation to be respected for that reason would provide a much stronger justificatory foundation for respecting the principle seen from a corporateperspective, given that corporations are accountable to their shareholders for their deployment of the firm’s financial resources.
4. Business Ethics Quarterly: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
Florian Wettstein, Silence as Complicity: Elements of a Corporate Duty to Speak Out Against the Violation of Human Rights
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Increasingly, global businesses are confronted with the question of complicity in human rights violations committed by abusive host governments. This contribution specifically looks at silent complicity and the way it challenges conventional interpretations of corporate responsibility. Silent complicity impliesthat corporations have moral obligations that reach beyond the negative realm of doing no harm. Essentially, it implies that corporations have a moral responsibility to help protect human rights by putting pressure on perpetrating host governments involved in human rights abuses. This is a controversial claim, which this contribution proposes to analyze with a view to understanding and determining the underlying conditions that need to be met in order for moral agents to be said to have such responsibilities in the category of the duty to protect human rights.
5. Business Ethics Quarterly: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
Stepan Wood, The Case for Leverage-Based Corporate Human Rights Responsibility
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Should companies’ human rights responsibilities arise, in part, from their “leverage”—their ability to influence others’ actions through their relationships? Special Representative John Ruggie rejected this proposition in the United Nations Framework for business and human rights. I argue that leverage is a source of responsibility where there is a morally significant connection between the company and a rights-holder or rights-violator, the company is able to make a contribution to ameliorating the situation, it can do so at modest cost, and the threat to human rights is substantial. In such circumstances companies have a responsibility to exercise leverage even though they did nothing to contribute to the situation. Such responsibility is qualified, not categorical; graduated, not binary; context-specific; practicable; consistent with the social role of business; and not merely a negative responsibility to avoid harm but a positive responsibility to do good.
6. Business Ethics Quarterly: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
Aaron A. Dhir, Shareholder Engagement in the Embedded Business Corporation: Investment Activism, Human Rights, and TWAIL Discourse
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The expansion of extractive corporations’ overseas business operations has led to serious concerns regarding human rights–related impacts. As theseapprehensions grow, we see a countervailing rise in calls for government intervention and in levels of socially conscious shareholder advocacy. I focus on the latter as manifested in recent use of the shareholder proposal mechanism found in corporate law. Shareholder proposals, while under-theorized, provide a valuable lens through which to consider the argument that economic behaviour is embedded within social relations. In doing so, I situate my analysis within Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) scholarship. Elsewhere, I have supported the use of corporate law tools in advancing the international human rights enterprise and argued that investment activism can be an essential component of this advancement. This paper represents a reflexive pause. Using the case study of a recent proposal submitted to Goldcorp Inc., I seek to problematize the shareholder proposal as a human rights advocacy tool and to examine it as a site of contestation.
7. Business Ethics Quarterly: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
John Douglas Bishop, The Limits of Corporate Human Rights Obligations and the Rights of For-Profit Corporations
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The extension of human rights obligations to corporations raises questions about whose rights and which rights corporations are responsible for. This paper gives a partial answer by asking what legal rights corporations would need to have to fulfil various sorts of human rights obligations. We should compare thechances of human rights fulfilment (and violations) that are likely to result from assigning human rights obligations to corporations with the chances of humanrights fulfilment (and violations) that are likely to result from giving corporations the legal rights needed to undertake those human rights obligations. Corporationsshould respect basic human rights of all people. Non-complicity in human rights violations requires that corporations have the right to political freedom of speech.To actively protect people from human rights violations, corporations need the right to hire armed security personnel; such obligations should be limited to protecting corporate property and narrowly defined stakeholders. Obligations to spend corporate resources on human rights fulfilment are confined to contributing to specific projects. Corporations have no obligation to ensure a society in which human rights are fulfilled. This principle helps us understand why corporate obligations are substantially different from those of governments.
8. Business Ethics Quarterly: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
Peter Muchlinski, Implementing the New UN Corporate Human Rights Framework: Implications for Corporate Law, Governance, and Regulation
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The UN Framework on Human Rights and Business comprises the State’s duty to protect human rights, the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, and the duty to remedy abuses. This paper focuses on the corporate responsibility to respect. It considers how to overcome obstacles, arising out of national and international law, to the development of a legally binding corporate duty to respect human rights. It is argued that the notion of human rights due diligence will lead to the creation of binding legal duties and that principles of corporate and tort law can be adapted to this end. Furthermore, recent legal developmentsaccept an “enlightened shareholder value” approach allowing corporate managers to consider human rights issues when making decisions. The responsibility torespect involves adaptation of shareholder based corporate governance towards a more stakeholder oriented approach and could lead to the development of a new, stakeholder based, corporate model.
book reviews
9. Business Ethics Quarterly: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
Norman E. Bowie, Stakeholder Theory: The State of the Art
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10. Business Ethics Quarterly: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
Stephen R. C. Hicks, America’s Economic Moralists: A History of Rival Ethics and Economics
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