A Two-Track, Multi-Channel Regulatory Model

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The story of human rights corporate accountability is not a story of a move towards stringent international and transnational regulations. One discussion nowadays is whether the UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights (UNGPs) should be hardened into law. Regulations on human rights due diligence (HRDD) would increase access to remedies for victims, hold lead firms legally liable for their involvement in harm, and incentivize responsible business conduct. The UN has taken up the hard law question in 2014 and is pondering now the options for a
treaty on corporate accountability. This brief is about using legal coercion directed at the top of global value chains (GVCs) as a way forward. It addresses two questions: when and why should coercive regulations be promoted or not? How can the business and human rights overnance regime become stronger even in the absence of such regulations aimed at lead firms in GVCs? The brief puts forward a regulatory framework and narrative to valorize less coercive legal strategies and non-legal strategies through ‘regulatory mixes’. Less coercive nstruments could be transparency laws, public procurement regulations, soft law instruments, and various policies inside and outside GVCs to enable responsible business conduct.