Business, Human Rights, and the Promise of Polycentricity
41 Pages Posted: 7 Jun 2014
Date Written: June 5, 2014
During his mandate and since, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises (“SRSG”) John Ruggie referred to the “Protect, Respect, and Remedy” Framework (“PRR framework”) and the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (“Guiding Principles”) as a polycentric governance system. But what exactly that means has not been very carefully elucidated. This Article analyzes that description in the context of a deep and varied literature on polycentric governance and evaluates the PRR framework in that light. In particular, the Article uses a case study approach, analyzing the emerging potential polycentric governance system related to the sourcing of certain minerals from conflicted-affected countries in the African Great Lakes region to explore these issues. The conflict minerals regulatory regime incorporates a notable number of the concerns and opportunities Ruggie highlighted and promoted in the PRR framework and Guiding Principles. The Article concludes with a recommendation for further study of the concepts explored in it, as applied to the business and human rights sector generally and conflict minerals regulation specifically. Ultimately, the Article argues that given the relative paucity of binding international law regulating the human rights aspects of business and that substantial multilateral progress in the near future is unlikely, the success of the PRR framework and the Guiding Principles may well depend on whether the promise of its polycentric nature can be fully realized.
Keywords: human rights, business, polycentric governance
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation