Decentring Narratives Around Business and Human Rights Instruments: An Example of the French Devoir de Vigilance Law
Business and Human Rights Journal, Vol. 8, Issue 1
34 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2021 Last revised: 3 May 2023
Date Written: November 7, 2021
There has been tremendous momentum in adoption of business and human rights regulations, specifically national legislation that mandate human rights due diligence. While these legislation have been heralded as the torchbearers of progress, this article approaches national legislation on business and human rights by placing them in context of a North-South divide through a Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) lens. It looks at the form of regulation of transnational corporations (national/international) – not the substance – and illustrates the neo-colonial flavour of these laws by diving into the narrative behind the adoption of the French devoir de vigilance law. It illustrates that the French law can also be read as an attempt to universalise European values while reinforcing power hierarchies. The claim of this article is that national legislation cannot be a substitute for a treaty but only a path towards one because national legislation structurally lack means to take the Global South participation seriously.
Keywords: Business and human rights treaty, Duty of vigilance, Decolonisation, Human rights due diligence, TWAIL
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