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The Monster Under the Bed: Financial Services and the Ruggie Framework

THE UN GUIDING PRINCIPLES ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS: FOUNDATIONS AND IMPLEMENTATION, R. Mares, ed., Brill: The Netherlands, pp. 193-216, 2012

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 11/61

14 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2011 Last revised: 24 May 2012

Mary Dowell-Jones

University of Nottingham Human Rights Law Centre

David Kinley

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: September 26, 2011

Abstract

The problems at the heart of the global financial system that were laid bare by the 2007/8 crisis had profound impacts on the world’s poor – both in rich and poor countries. Jobs, livelihoods, health care, educational opportunities, and welfare benefits were and continue to be lost or cut, and the human rights standards of those affected have plummeted. The financial institutions at the heart of the crisis are (or were) corporations, subject to laws and regulatory oversight that clearly failed. But they are also corporations supposedly subject to the tide of corporate social responsibility, human rights and environmental sensitivities sweeping the corporate world. Many, in fact, had and have human rights policies in place that were commensurate with the demands of the UN’s newly minted corporations and human rights Framework and Guidelines, and yet these policies and the processes that underpinned them were inconsequential in the face of the bad-debts tsunami that swamped the financial sector and the global economy. This has much to do with the rapacious culture of ever-growing returns let loose in global finance in recent decades, the inscrutable complexity of the system, the monumental misunderstanding and mismanagement of risk, and the regulatory architecture at its heart that sanctioned excessive risk taking. But this begs the question of what, if anything, the UN Framework and Guidelines can meaningfully contribute to the better management of the financial sector and the protection of international human rights from financial malfunction and excess.

Keywords: Financial Regulation, Global Financial Crisis, UN Framework on Corporations and Human Rights

JEL Classification: K10, K22, K30, K33

Suggested Citation

Dowell-Jones, Mary and Kinley, David, The Monster Under the Bed: Financial Services and the Ruggie Framework (September 26, 2011). THE UN GUIDING PRINCIPLES ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS: FOUNDATIONS AND IMPLEMENTATION, R. Mares, ed., Brill: The Netherlands, pp. 193-216, 2012; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 11/61. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1934021

Mary Dowell-Jones

University of Nottingham Human Rights Law Centre ( email )

Law and Social Science Building
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 1BB
United Kingdom

David Kinley (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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