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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

Dorothée Baumann-Pauly

New York University, Center for Business and Human Rights

Justine Nolan

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law

Auret Dennis Van Heerden

New York University (NYU)

Michael Samway

Georgetown University - Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS)

Date Written: March 10, 2015

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Baumann-Pauly, Dorothée and Nolan, Justine and Van Heerden, Auret Dennis and Samway, Michael, Industry-Specific Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives that Govern Corporate Human Rights Standards – Legitimacy Assessments of the Fair Labor Association and the Global Network Initiative (March 10, 2015). UNSW Law Research Paper No. 2015-12. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2576217 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2576217

Dorothée Baumann-Pauly (Contact Author)

New York University, Center for Business and Human Rights ( email )

44 West 4th Street
New York, NY NY 10012
United States

Justine Nolan

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law ( email )

Kensington, New South Wales 2052
Australia

Auret Van Heerden

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

Michael Samway

Georgetown University - Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

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