Fixing meanings in global governance? "Respect" and "Protect" in the UN guiding principles on business and human rights

Karp, David Jason (2020) Fixing meanings in global governance? "Respect" and "Protect" in the UN guiding principles on business and human rights. Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organizations, 26 (4). pp. 628-649. ISSN 1942-6720

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This article uses snapshots, rather than the ongoing flows of diffusion/contestation typically emphasized by constructivists, to explore the exercise of power through normative change. Its case is a high-profile Human Rights Council initiative: the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP s). These UNGP s have successfully presented meanings as fixed while actually stretching those meanings’ boundaries. They reconceptualize what it means to “respect” and “protect” human rights. This is surprising given that the principles were framed as a conservative exercise at clarification, and under-noticed due to the legal rather than conceptual focus of the existing critical literature. To respect human rights, according to the UNGP s, agents need to take costly positive action. Furthermore, protect obligations come before respect. These are significant innovations. On the other hand, two missed opportunities of the UNGP s are their thin harm-based foundation for respect obligations, and their state centrism about who has duties to protect.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Business and human rights, global governance, norms, meanings, respect, protect, Guiding Principles, obligations
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Research Centres and Groups: Centre for Advanced International Theory
Sussex Rights and Justice Research Centre
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5001 Business > HF5387 Business ethics
J Political Science > JZ International relations
K Law > KZ Law of Nations
Depositing User: David Karp
Date Deposited: 23 Jul 2019 15:18
Last Modified: 21 Jan 2021 14:53

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