Contextualising the Business Responsibility to Respect: How Much Is Lost in Translation

Fiona Haines, Kate Macdonald and Samantha Balaton-Chrimes, “Contextualising the Business Responsibility to Respect: How much is lost in translation?”, in Radu Mares (ed), The UN guiding principles on business and human rights: foundations and implementation, Brill, Leiden (2012): pp.107-128

21 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2016

See all articles by Fiona Haines

Fiona Haines

University of Melbourne School of Social and Political Sciences; Australian National University (ANU)

Kate Macdonald

University of Melbourne

Samantha Balaton-Chrimes

Deakin University

Date Written: January 1, 2012

Abstract

As the work of the UN Special Representative (UNSR) for business and human rights moves towards its conclusion in mid-2011, the ‘responsibility to respect’ principles have received widespread endorsement from businesses, NGOs and governments. The corporate responsibility to respect is based on an account of ‘negative’ responsibility, namely the imperative that business should ‘at least do no harm’. There has been broad-based support for this proposition that business should respect (but not necessarily protect or promote) internationally recognised human rights. The Protect-Respect-Remedy Framework articulates non negotiable goals, but endorses flexible means for achieving these goals. The UNSR’s final report states clearly that “the responsibility to respect human rights applies fully and equally to all business enterprises”. But the report also acknowledges that the translation of these general principles into specific obligations governing business activity will need to differ according to context and that “[w]hen it comes to means for implementation ... one size does not fit all”. What is needed is flexibility—the capacity to take account of particular circumstances to ensure that all business, irrespective of circumstance, can fulfill their responsibility to respect human rights.

Keywords: international development, human rights, NGOs, governance, global governance

Suggested Citation

Haines, Fiona and Macdonald, Kate and Balaton-Chrimes, Samantha, Contextualising the Business Responsibility to Respect: How Much Is Lost in Translation (January 1, 2012). Fiona Haines, Kate Macdonald and Samantha Balaton-Chrimes, “Contextualising the Business Responsibility to Respect: How much is lost in translation?”, in Radu Mares (ed), The UN guiding principles on business and human rights: foundations and implementation, Brill, Leiden (2012): pp.107-128. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2879275

Fiona Haines

University of Melbourne School of Social and Political Sciences ( email )

Level 4, John Medley Building
Melbourne, VIC 3010
Australia

Australian National University (ANU) ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601
Australia

Kate Macdonald (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053
Australia

Samantha Balaton-Chrimes

Deakin University ( email )

75 Pigdons Road
Victoria, Victoria 3216
Australia

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