Volume 4, 2009
A Survey of International Corporate Responsibility
Developing a Global Regime for Human Rights
This paper examines prospects for and content of a global regime for human rights. Competing schools of thought forecast convergence and divergence of national standards under stress of globalization. No such regime exists, and there is no compelling theory of international corporate social responsibility. However, elements of an emerging global regime can be identified and partially overlap with environmental protection issues. This regime is highly fragmented, underdeveloped, and only partially enforceable—but it is in development. The UN Global Compact, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), ISO 26000 (expected in 2010), the U.S. Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) of 1789 and the permanent international criminal court established in 2002 are illustrations of such elements. The third Ruggie Report, issued 2008, is an important summary of conditions and proposes a strategy for forward progress. Human rights impose important obligations on multinational enterprises (MNEs) operating across highly diverse political, legal, and cultural realities.