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Integrating human rights in emerging regulation of Corporate Social Responsibility: the EU case

  • Karin Buhmann (a1)

Abstract

This article analyses the EU Commission's policy-based approach to regulating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the role of international human rights law as a normative source for the regulatory output in two initiatives launched in 2002 and 2006. The article argues as a starting point that the understanding of CSR as ‘beyond law’ tends to shroud the contributions that international human rights law and legal theory based regulatory technique lend to CSR normativity and regulation, not only outside the EU but also within. The EU experience shows that due to power relations and their impact on multi-stakeholder negotiations and their outcome, this potential does necessarily unfold. It also shows that the procedural design of reflexive multi-stakeholder regulatory processes is significant for bringing forth the normative contributions of international law to CSR in public–private regulation. Finally, the article suggests that within the public policy context in which EU CSR regulation is emerging, the normative role of international human rights law which the Commission suggests for CSR in Europe and the application of the reflexive regulatory technique contribute to a substantive as well as procedural juridification of CSR, especially in the formative stage of defining CSR normativity. The latter adds a significant new perspective to the understanding of CSR and its relation to law, although it need not conflict with the understanding of CSR being ‘voluntary’ in the sense of action beyond direct legal obligations.

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Integrating human rights in emerging regulation of Corporate Social Responsibility: the EU case

  • Karin Buhmann (a1)

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