Philosophy of Management 20 (2):167-200 (2021)

This paper considers the UN efforts to introduce a legally binding Treaty on corporate accountability for human rights impacts in the context of other proposed legislation at country level, on the one hand, and existing voluntary initiatives like the UN Guiding Principles, on the other. What we are interested in is whether the proposed Treaty signals a transition from voluntary initiatives to law, and the extent to which it might stimulate or hinder links between judicial and non-judicial initiatives. The scholars who have explicitly addressed these two divides are – Michael Sandel, on theory v. practice; and Amartya Sen, on law v. morality. We engage with their views, in sections II and III respectively, seeking to build an integrated approach to help us overcome these dualisms. We further consider John Ruggie’s “principled pragmatism”, a strategy that he uses to build the Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework; and we invoke arguments from casuistry as well as a practice-focused deontology in favour of an ethics ‘beyond cognition’, which we consider better suited than either utilitarian or principle-based theories to guide the debate on human rights. This is because it allows us to take non-rational factors into account, when judging the kind of common good we consider worth pursuing. In the last section of the paper, we investigate whether and how might the Treaty illustrate the two divides, trying to distinguish between purely legal elements and those of a wider nature, to do with morality; and understand what might help bridge the gap between theoretical commitments to the universality of human rights and various practical challenges. Our aim is not to evaluate the Treaty, from a legal viewpoint, or suggest improvements to it ; rather, we seek to investigate the way in which the proposed Treaty – which is the first attempt to address the challenge of transnational business and human rights in international law – combines moral and legal aspects, and what this tells us about the world we live in.
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DOI 10.1007/s40926-020-00150-0
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References found in this work BETA

Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?Michael J. Sandel (ed.) - 2009 - Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
On Liberty.John Stuart Mill - 1956 - Cambridge University Press.
Elements of a Theory of Human Rights.S. E. N. Amartya - 2004 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 32 (4):315–356.
On Liberty.John Stuart Mill - 1956 - Broadview Press.
Law, Liberty, and Morality.H. L. A. Hart - 1963 - Oxford University Press.

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