From Compliance to Practice: Mining Companies and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo
29 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 11 Aug 2010
Date Written: 2010
Transnational institutions, such as the Global Compact and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs), commit multinational companies to human rights and social standards on a voluntary basis. The governance literature has identified a credible ‘shadow of hierarchy’ cast by a central authority as a major precondition for companies to comply with their voluntary commitments.
Transnational institutions not only lack enforcement capacities. The local production sites of MNCs are often hosted by states, which only loosely adhere to global rights themselves and are neither willing nor capable of making non-state actors comply with them. Home states have been reluctant to foster binding regulation for the human rights behaviour of ‘their’ companies abroad.
Our paper investigates the security practices of MNCs and their (non)compliance with voluntary standards. We analyse whether MNCs still honour their commitment to transnational voluntary programs in areas of limited statehood, such as the VPs in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Combining insights from the literature on compliance, (private) governance, postcolonial states and security/policing studies, we develop a conceptual framework which complements ‘top-down approaches’ dominating the literature on voluntary programs, business and governance with a ‘bottom-up perspective’ that puts the entire range of companies’ local security practices centre stage. This allows to evaluate corporate security practices beyond the implementation of formal programs (output) focusing on rule-consistent behaviour (outcome) by not only looking for behavioural changes that can be attributed to voluntary programs but also for governance practices that may undermine or even conflict with the requirements of the VPs. An explorative case study on two multinational mining companies in the DRC demonstrates that our integrated, more comprehensive approach paints a more nuanced picture when it comes to corporate compliance with transnational voluntary programs and the evaluation of corporate security practices more generally than much of the literature on business and governance in areas of limited statehood.
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