Rights in a state of exception. The deadly colonial ethics of voluntary corporate responsibility for human rights

Coleman, Lara Montesinos (2018) Rights in a state of exception. The deadly colonial ethics of voluntary corporate responsibility for human rights. Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 8 (6). pp. 874-900. ISSN 2079-5971

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Abstract

It is widely accepted that voluntary corporate responsibility for human rights is a means of continuing “business-as-usual”. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been denounced as “whitewash”, with little effect in practice. I claim here that voluntary CSR is far worse than “whitewash”: it actively bolsters corporate impunity by rendering the violence of development illegible and equating resistance with irrationality or subversion. It thrives upon the state of exception that provides the permissive context of human rights violations. I make this argument by returning to the birthplace of corporate responsibility for human rights: BP’s Colombian oilfields, combining ethnographic research with trenchant critique of the colonial myths informing mainstream discussion of business and human rights. The UN has responded to the potential of voluntary CSR to detract from abuses by emphasising the importance of judicial remedy. What the analysis here reveals is how voluntary measures and provision for judicial remedy may work in opposite directions.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Development
School of Global Studies > International Relations
Depositing User: Sharon Krummel
Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2018 08:58
Last Modified: 21 May 2019 15:35
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/78833

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