Responsibility for Human Rights Violations, Acts or Omissions, within the 'Sphere of Influence' of Companies
Harvard University - Berkman Center for Internet & Society; University of St. Gallen
Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2007-12
This article approaches the question of corporate social responsibility for acts and omissions of business entities outside the ownership sphere but possibly within the sphere of influence from a legal perspective. Within this thematic context, it addresses four issues. The first section provides a sketch of the genesis of the sphere of influence concept, provides in a nutshell a summary of the current state of the debate regarding its concretization and specification, and comments on the its legal status and relevance under current law. The second section briefly identifies - against the backdrop of the current debate - some of the characteristics that make it particularly challenging to define the notion of sphere of influence. The third section of the paper then outlines two basic strategies to overcome the definitional problem: A top down approach where the criteria to decide whether or not an act or omission is within a company's sphere of influence is decided authoritatively, and a bottom up approach that looks at companies' human rights policies in order to explore their actual reach and potential for taking effective measures. The fourth and final section offers some reflections on the question of the virtue of the sphere of influence-concept - despite its relative vagueness.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 19
Keywords: human rights, corporate, internet, gasserworking papers series
Date posted: December 21, 2007
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