Ten Years After: From the UN Guiding Principles to Multi-Fiduciary Obligations

Forthcoming in Business and Human Rights Journal

34 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2021

See all articles by John Gerard Ruggie

John Gerard Ruggie

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Caroline Rees

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Rachel Davis

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: April 12, 2021

Abstract

Our discussion is divided into five parts. The first recaps the current debate regarding the purpose of the corporation, which centers on whether and how stakeholder governance should and could supersede shareholder primacy. The second provides a brief backstory on shareholder primacy vs. stakeholder governance. The third introduces the elements of HRDD and demonstrates that even in its soft law form it is bringing stakeholder concerns and corporate practice into closer alignment. Section four describes how this experience with soft law is informing national and supranational legal requirements in a growing number of jurisdictions, with knock-on effects for corporate governance. The conclusion endeavors to draw some lessons from how, a mere decade after UN endorsement of the Guiding Principles, they have turned the idea that companies are responsible for preventing and addressing adverse impacts of their business on people’s basic dignity and equality into a mainstream proposition with significant implications for corporate governance, while acknowledging that large gaps remain in the business and human rights space.

Keywords: Stakeholder capitalism, human rights and environmental due diligence, soft and hard law

Suggested Citation

Ruggie, John Gerard and Rees, Caroline and Davis, Rachel, Ten Years After: From the UN Guiding Principles to Multi-Fiduciary Obligations (April 12, 2021). Forthcoming in Business and Human Rights Journal, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3825057

John Gerard Ruggie (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-384-7569 (Phone)
617-496-0063 (Fax)

Caroline Rees

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Rachel Davis

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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