Global Justice, Human Rights, and Corporate Social Responsibility: Does the UN Global Compact Serve These Ends?
28 Pages Posted: 1 May 2020
Date Written: April 6, 2020
The concept of ‘corporate social responsibility’ (CSR) has gained significance as a matter of global politics, and institutions designed to promote CSR, such as the UN Global Compact (UNGC), have been developed in the global sphere. The UNGC has been widely discussed in literature on business ethics and management, politics and international relations, or international law, but not in literature on global justice. The aim of this paper is to enrich the latter literature by discussing the following question: should we consider the UNGC to be sufficient to promote justice in the global economy, or should we consider it to be only an appropriate starting point around which to establish further arrangements? This question is important because, if the UNGC is at least appropriate, then it can be regarded as a meaningful (if not sufficient) contribution to the actual realisation of global justice. I shall argue for four points. First, ‘CSR’ means, at the very least, the corporate responsibility to respect a very extensive and holistic set of human rights. Second, in the light of this point, the UNGC can be judged to be appropriate (with one reservation) to promote (rights-based) justice. However, third, the UNGC may be insufficient because there is a systemic obstacle which may prevent corporate actors from fulfilling (one of) its principles. And fourth, if we take human rights, justice, and the UNGC principles seriously, then we may need to reconceptualise what is normally regarded as ‘CSR’.
Keywords: global justice, human rights, corporate social responsibility, the UN Global Compact
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