Over at the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, there’s an insightful article on the results of a research project that examined whether and how corporate and securities law in more than 40 jurisdictions around the world currently fosters corporate respect for human rights.
It is believed to be the first in-depth, comparative study of the links between human rights and corporate and securities law.
Among the conclusions reached by the study:
- Current corporate and securities law does recognize human rights to a limited extent. Put simply, where human rights impacts may harm companies’ short or long term interests if they are not adequately identified, managed and reported, companies and their officers may risk non-compliance with a variety of rules promoting corporate governance, risk management and market safeguards. Even where the company itself is not at risk, several states recognize through their corporate and securities laws that responsible corporate practice should not entail negative social or environmental consequences, including for human rights.
- At the same time, there is a lack of clarity in corporate and securities law regarding not only what companies or their officers are required to do regarding human rights, but in some cases even what they are permitted to do. Moreover, there appears to be only limited (to non-existent) coordination between corporate regulators and government agencies tasked with implementing human rights obligations. As a result, companies and their officers appear to get little if any official guidance on how best to oversee
In the wake several huge stories this summer involving corporate malfeasance such as the BP Oil Spill and the Foxconn labor-suicides, it’s about time that a study like this gets underway. The intersection between business and human rights requires corporations to strike a delegate balance. This study is a step in the right direction.
What do you think?