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

Karp, David Jason (2019) 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. ISSN 1942-6720 (Accepted)

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Abstract

This article uses 'snapshots', rather than the ongoing flows of diffusion/contestation typically emphasised by constructivists, in order to evaluate normative change. Its case is a high-profile Human Rights Council initiative: the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). The UNGPs have successfully presented meanings as fixed, while actually stretching those meanings' boundaries. They re-conceptualise what it means to 'respect' and to 'protect' human rights. This is surprising given that these Principles were framed as a conservative exercise at mere clarification; and also under-noticed, due to the legal rather than conceptual focus of the existing critical literature. According to the UNGPs, to respect human rights, 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 UNGPs 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: 24 Jul 2019 09:11
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/85059

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