Protect, Respect, Remedy and Participate: ‘New Governance’ Lessons for the Ruggie Framework

THE UN GUIDING PRINCIPLES ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS: FOUNDATIONS AND IMPLEMENTATION, Radu Mares, ed., Martinus Nijhoff Publishers 2012

Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-019

34 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2011 Last revised: 7 Jan 2014

Tara J. Melish

SUNY Buffalo Law School

Errol Meidinger

University at Buffalo Law School

Date Written: August 8, 2011

Abstract

This piece addresses the legacy of Harvard Professor John Gerard Ruggie’s work as the first UN Special Representative to the Secretary General (SRSG) on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations, a UN mandate he held from 2005-2011. In it, we interrogate the theoretical underpinnings of the conceptual and policy framework for addressing human rights abuse in the business context that Professor Ruggie has endorsed as SRSG and query whether a conceptually and operationally more effective framework might have been produced had Ruggie and his team approached the task from a new governance or new accountability perspective.

After situating Ruggie’s work within a sociological institutionalist perspective to system transformation, we describe the key insights offered by new governance approaches for the construction of effective governance and accountability regimes – including those of expanded stakeholder participation, the addition of new kinds of non-traditional processes for holding social actors to account, and the role of orchestration in promoting learning and experimentation across sectors and individual governance entities. Taking these insights into account, we conclude that Ruggie’s “Protect, Respect, and Remedy” framework would have been significantly strengthened by the addition of a fourth “Participation” pillar. That pillar would have acknowledged the critical role that civil society actors play at all levels of global governance today and, importantly, provided a firm normative foundation for such actors to insist on direct participation in the monitoring, enforcement, and implementation of the diverse array of policies and practices that affect the enjoyment of human rights in the business context.

Keywords: human rights, business, new governance, accountability, participation, orchestration, sociological institutionalism, acculturation

Suggested Citation

Melish, Tara J. and Meidinger, Errol, Protect, Respect, Remedy and Participate: ‘New Governance’ Lessons for the Ruggie Framework (August 8, 2011). THE UN GUIDING PRINCIPLES ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS: FOUNDATIONS AND IMPLEMENTATION, Radu Mares, ed., Martinus Nijhoff Publishers 2012; Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1906834

Tara J. Melish (Contact Author)

SUNY Buffalo Law School ( email )

School of Law
525 O'Brian Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100
United States
(716) 645-2257 (Phone)

Errol Meidinger

University at Buffalo Law School ( email )

520 O'Brian Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100
United States
716-645-6692 (Phone)
716-645-2064 (Fax)

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