"Re-righting Business": John Ruggie and the Struggle to Develop International Human Rights Standards for Transnational Firms
Abstract

As the major players in globalization, firms often operate in states where human rights may not be respected. Without direct intent, firms may be complicit in human rights violations. In 2008, John Ruggie, the United Nations (UN) Special Representative on business and human rights, developed a framework for policymakers to protect human rights and for executives to respect human rights. On 16 June 2011, the UN Human Rights Council endorsed Ruggie's "Guiding Principles" (GPs) for implementing this framework. This article describes how firms, states, and to a lesser extent nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), have responded to this delineation of the human rights responsibilities of business. This article makes four key points: 1) the GPs are an important advance in global governance; 2) the process of developing the GPs was a model of transparent, inclusive twenty-first century governance, although the public is generally unaware of the issue or the new policy; 3) the GPs are a creative and broad rethinking of how to evaluate the human rights performance of corporations; and 4) the GPs are unlikely to have much influence unless policymakers educate their national firms and their citizens regarding the human rights responsibilities of business and press these executives to act.


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