Business and Human Rights

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Week 14 Business and Human Rights
2015xxxxx Hxx Kxxg Kim

CSR, short for ‘Corporate social responsibility’, is a voluntary business action, not mandated by law.
The key part is that companies decide actions ‘voluntarily’ to make a better society. This book is
challenging to bring management and legal perspectives of this concept CSR together and its focus is
on human rights within this debate. It also tackles with BRHR, ‘Business Responsibilities for Human
Rights’. Plus, it lasts with exploring the implications of state roles around the framework of business
In section 2, it elaborates about the business responsibilities for human rights. Since the 1990s,
business responsibilities for human rights have taken into the consideration of international
organizations with a regulatory purpose, especially within the UN. Through the 2008 report of UN
Framework, this came out clearly in ‘the Protect, Respect, Remedy framework’ presented. This
framework includes the state’s duty to protect individuals, a business responsibility to respect human
rights, and the need for better access both within a business boundary and within remedial institutions.
Talking about CSR and BRHR, while CSR is an open term dealing with softer forms of
responsibilities, BRHR is focused on the state duty and obligations to protect human rights. This came
out clearly through the three-pronged framework mentioned previously.
About how CSR and BRHR differ, general CSR deals with many other issues besides human rights
and focus on corporate voluntary action. Contrarily, BRHR is narrower than the CSR putting more
focus on the human rights. As BRHR also stresses state obligations based on international law, it still
holds the idea that companies bear responsibilities for human rights. Again, CSR is relatively an open
notion, covering labor rights and the environment. Upon the economic and work-related rights, CSR
relates human rights to the basic level of living conditions as the business operation expands to the
categories of suppliers, buyers and further the communities. To summarize, CSR and BRHR may
differ explicitly in terms of attention given to obligations and responsibilities, but the concepts and
informing discourses feed into each other.
In section 3, it provides much deeper understanding regarding CSR by redefining what the law
means from the process-oriented theory perspective. CSR is often seen as less mandatory law. About
this ‘law’, in western ideas, law is viewed as an autonomous storage of normative standards and
public international law has been heavily influenced by this way of understanding the law. Thus,
human rights in international law were originally conceived as rights held by individuals against the
state, resulting in perceptions that businesses are exempted from being accountable of violating
human rights in the name of ‘state’ performed. However, here, the CSR and BRHR challenge these
assumptions by pulling out the possibility of businesses’ responsibility in cases of inadequate state
protection of human rights. Upon this challenge, this section implies that law need not only consist of
certain rules requiring action, but also of institutionalization of norms of conduct.
In section 4, it provides a variety of global legal and management perspectives of CSR and BRHR.
This chapter connects law and management through organizations and institutions. There were a lot of
experts explaining what we need to pay more attention about regarding CSR and BRHR, and I’ve
selected several important and mostly core views and work on this topic. First two counter views were
that one suggested that regulation of business responsibilities for human rights can come in a range of
forms and the other suggested that the concern with legislative and enforcement measures should be
widened to provide programs like learning forum to exchange views and experience for business, civil
society, and governments. It also tackles with SRSG’s three-pronged framework in regard both to
developing states suffering so-called ‘governance gaps’ and to developed societies as well. This
chapter, by examining regional perspectives from Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, and Latin
America, suggest combining law and management in relation to corporate social and human rights

About a month ago, there was a happening around a certain toothpaste corporation, ‘Median’.
Median toothpaste is what my family has used since I was very young as we all trusted in its name
value and the advertisements the company provided through the media.
Toothpaste is what person use every day, more than at least twice a day. Including this little
toothpaste, there are a variety of household items or products that we purchase and use at a daily basis.
We adopt them into or onto our own bodies, or breathe and sleep under the circumstance which those
products create. In other words, we just give ourselves to the things that we bought from the
companies whether private or state-owned and it all means that we do put our faith in the business
framework of society that it will apparently base our rights underneath every sale of products.
When my family and I found out that the Median toothpaste consists of toxic components that can
arouse facial scramble, we were mad and upset not only because it meant a huge waste of money
accumulated from the past but because it made us feel like so ‘dumb’. We felt so foolish and thus
disrespected. The disappointment and feelings of betrayed got bigger but there was no way to get that
recovered other than throwing them out and write some hateful comments under the articles regarding
Median’s cheating.
Just like my case, there have been several human rights violations of corporations one of which even
killed a mass number of children in the end. However, the reaction and the punishment of the
stakeholders were relatively weak and seemed to have no regard about how serious this human rights
‘genocide’ is, compared to the suffering victims and their families. Human rights exist everywhere
and the stakeholder varies from the state, business leader, institution or the society itself. There’s no
exception in promoting the human rights, hence no exception for business which sometimes hide
oneself behind the state dumping its abuses of human rights on the state. The papers, under this
perspective, were somehow clear and refreshed explaining not only the theoretical foundation of
business responsibilities to ensure a remedy to the victims of corporate human rights abuses but also
frankly pointing out the drawbacks in it to practically raise its value to decisive level.
I pretty much agree and support the 2008 report of SRSG ‘Protect, Respect, Remedy framework’
which shows its effort to systematically guarantee the human rights of customers in relationship with
the business. But I also agree to how it critically examines the flaws of its report that it needs more
realistic and straightforward, not just theoretical level of approach.
It is important to establish certain terms like CSR, corporate social responsibility, or BRHR, business
responsibilities for human rights, and further comparing them as such: while CSR is an open term
dealing with softer forms of responsibilities, BRHR is focused on the state duty and obligations to
protect human rights. Theoretical foundation to realize and organize the framework is the first step to
reach to the level of really rescuing the customers in the society in which everyone of stakeholder is
trying to escape from the blames. However, the most important change and challenge the paper faces
is on declaring on WHY corporations should have human rights responsibilities, WHAT these
responsibilities are, and HOW these could be implemented
The reality is what we see and are also experiencing now in this society we live in. Starting from
little toothpaste, Oxy’s humidifiers which already brought about the victims of them all show how
serious the business leaders are blunt and irresponsible in producing and delivering their products to
the customers. The society needs more attention to this. Not only the business itself, but also the state
and the international institutions like World Bank who yet have the power to influence on and can
take part in the change of business accountability of human rights should and have a reason for
naming it as their duty to promote and secure the human rights set around everywhere in the twentyfirst century.

1. What kind of incentives would be to induce the corporations to follow and embrace the
human rights in the competitive business world?
2. Who is to be blamed in case when the state-owned corporation committed human rights
abuse in the process of selling the product?
3. Is utilizing the social recognition and so-called ‘ceremonial conformity’ of corporations safe
and reasonable enough to assure the human rights of the customers?

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