Negotiating the Hard/Soft Law Divide in Business and Human Rights: The Implementation of the UNGPs in the European Union

9(2) Global Policy (2018) 254-263

21 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2018

Date Written: June 21, 2018

Abstract

The article discusses the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in the European Union against the backdrop of perennial debates between proponents of ‘hard’ versus ‘soft’ law approaches to preventing and redressing corporate-related human rights violations. It argues that the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) – an EU governance instrument of transnational policy-making – could contribute to negotiating the hard/soft law divide in business and human rights by ensuring a more effective implementation of the UNGPs in the European legal space. Moreover, the European experience with open coordination calls for a reappraisal of the relationship between international law and global governance in addressing today’s business and human rights predicament. The first part of the article situates the debate between proponents of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ law approaches to business and human rights in the context of two UN-driven initiatives: the development of national action plans (NAPs) to implement the UNGPs; and the negotiation of an international business and human rights treaty. The second part of the article relates experiences with the existing NAP process in the European Union to the policy background and rationale of the Open Method of Coordination and discusses the conditions for its successful employment in the business and human rights domain.

Keywords: Human Rights, Business, UNGPS, Business And Human Rights Treaty, European Union

Suggested Citation

Augenstein, Daniel, Negotiating the Hard/Soft Law Divide in Business and Human Rights: The Implementation of the UNGPs in the European Union (June 21, 2018). 9(2) Global Policy (2018) 254-263. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3200541

Daniel Augenstein (Contact Author)

Tilburg University ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, DC 5000 LE
Netherlands

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