Industry-Specific Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives that Govern Corporate Human Rights Standards – Legitimacy Assessments of the Fair Labor Association and the Global Network Initiative
40 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2015 Last revised: 10 Apr 2015
Date Written: March 10, 2015
Multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) are increasingly used as a default mechanism to address human rights challenges in a variety of industries. MSI is a designation that covers a broad range of initiatives from the very general (for example, the UN Global Compact) to those targeted at a single issue (such as child labor). Critics contest the legitimacy of the private governance model offered by MSIs. The objective of this paper is to assess the dominant approaches to business and human rights challenges and discuss their legitimacy generally and with respect to accountability and effectiveness specifically. We argue that one type of MSI, namely industry-specific MSIs have the potential to serve as a model for a democratically legitimate form of private governance. We analyze two industry-specific MSIs - the Fair Labor Association and the Global Network Initiative - to get a better understanding of how these MSIs formed, how they define and enforce standards, and how they seek to ensure accountability. Based on these empirical illustrations, we discuss the value of this specific MSI model and draw implications for the democratic legitimacy of private governance mechanisms.
Keywords: Legitimacy, Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives, Business and Human Rights, Private Governance Mechanisms, Voluntary Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives
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