Learn with Lena: On Business and Human Rights

By: Nikita Lourenco Calling, Lena Olsson,

Business and Human Rights

Welcome to this week’s blog post from Learn with Lena. Lena is the RWI librarian who once every other week shares book tips on topics related to human rights! This month we are focusing on the thematic area of Business and Human Rights. If you would like to have a bit of a backgorund about this subject, we posted some more information about it two weeks ago. Click here to read more about what Business and Human rights are.

Business and human rights is an area that interest many students, both those studying human rights and those studying economics. We are curious to understand the connection between these two areas. The awareness of globalization and its effect on people in industrialized as well as less developed countries have grown among the general population.

Just Business: Multinational Corporations and Human Rights

By John Gerard Ruggie

From the publisher: One of the most vexing human rights issues of our time has been how to protect the rights of individuals and communities worldwide in an age of globalization and multinational business. Indeed, from Indonesian sweatshops to oil-based violence in Nigeria, the challenges of regulating harmful corporate practices in some of the world’s most difficult regions long seemed insurmountable. Human rights groups and businesses were locked in a stalemate, unable to find common ground. In 2005, the United Nations appointed John Gerard Ruggie to the modest task of clarifying the main issues. Six years later, he had accomplished much more than that. Ruggie had developed his now-famous “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,” which provided a road map for ensuring responsible global corporate practices. The principles were unanimously endorsed by the UN and embraced and implemented by other international bodies, businesses, governments, workers’ organizations, and human rights groups, keying a revolution in corporate social responsibility.

Just Business tells the powerful story of how these landmark “Ruggie Rules” came to exist. Ruggie demonstrates how, to solve a seemingly unsolvable problem, he had to abandon many widespread and long-held understandings about the relationships between businesses, governments, rights, and law, and develop fresh ways of viewing the issues. He also takes us through the journey of assembling the right type of team, of witnessing the severity of the problem firsthand, and of pressing through the many obstacles such a daunting endeavor faced.

of this book is to examine various issues of human rights abuses and needed protections emanating from private business operations—and especially multinational corporations—around the world. Another major part of the book is devoted to shortdescriptions and analysis of field studies that Ruggie undertook to map out the variety of problems and challenges that various MNCs have encountered, and their attempts to address them. These include: Cajamarka gold mining project in Peru, Nike in low-wage countries in the Pacific Rim region, Union Carbide in Bhopal, India, Shell in Nigeria, and Yahoo in China.

The book is devoted to short descriptions and analysis of field studies that Ruggie undertook to map out the variety of problems and chal-lenges that various MNCs have encountered, and their attempts to address them. These include: Cajamarka goldmining project in Peru, Nike in low-wage countries in the Pacific Rim region, Union Carbide in Bhopal, India, Shell in Nigeria, and Yahoo in China.

In a global economy, multinational companies often operate in jurisdictions where governments are either unable or unwilling to uphold even the basic human rights of their citizens. The expectation that companies respect human rights in their own operations and in their business relationships is now a business reality that corporations need to respond to.

Global Capitalism, Culture, and Ethics

By Richard A. Spinello

From the publisher:

This book aims to deepen the student’s understanding of the complex ethical challenges that businesses face in an increasingly globalized world. As the world moves towards greater interdependence, it has been demonstrated that globalization is linked to economic growth. This raises a critical question: as a key player in fostering economic growth, how does the multinational corporation function as a moral agent?

Global Capitalism, Culture, and Ethics offers a sophisticated analysis of theoretical ethical issues such as universalism versus pluralism; the connection between law and morality; the validity of a corporate social agenda; and the general parameters of moral responsibilities for multinational corporations. With these foundational issues addressed, the book proceeds to analyze a number of specific controversies such as the proper scope of political activism, disinvestment, environmental sustainability, and responsible sourcing from low wage countries. The analysis of globalization is not confined to a treatment of the moral obligations of multinational corporations, but also reviews the history of global capitalism, the interdependence between governments and multinational corporations, and the beneficial and harmful effects of globalization on social welfare.

Weaving together themes from economics, history, philosophy, and law, this book allows the reader to appreciate globalization from multiple perspectives. Its theoretical cogency and uncompromising clarity make it a rewarding read for students interested in issues of ethics and globalization.

Research Handbook on Human Rights and Business

Research Handbooks in Human Rights series
Edited by Surya Deva, and David Birchall

From the publisher

This authoritative Research Handbook brings together leading international scholars and practitioners to provide in-depth analysis of some of the most hotly debated topics and issues concerning the interface of human rights and business.

In addition to offering critical insights on the historical evolution of the business and human rights field and its relationship with the domain of corporate social responsibility, contributions to this comprehensive Research Handbook are split into several thematic parts to facilitate cohesive analysis. Chapters explore the themes of corporate human rights due diligence, regulatory role of states, human rights’ intersection with trade, investment and finance, heightened risks for certain groups and contexts, and corporate accountability.
Containing a detailed examination of the challenges and the potential solutions in the field, the Research Handbook on Human Rights and Business will be an indispensable resource for scholars, researchers, policymakers and practitioners working at the intersection of business and human right

Learn with Lena will be back in two weeks with a focus on another one of our thematic areas!

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