Due Diligence in international law and corporate social responsibility (CSR)

Following the adoption of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (2011), companies are expected to ‘respect human rights’ by employing ‘due diligence’. Although widely endorsed by stakeholders the Principles erred in conceptualising corporate responsibilities without appeal to jurisprudence which resulted in ambiguities and blind spots. A due diligence-based regime of CSR is emerging but there is no inclination to draw on 140 years of experience in international law with ‘due diligence’ obligations of states. We need to connect CSR with jurisprudence and ask what is the potential of due diligence as a regulatory tool in CSR, and what are the roles of states in promoting due diligence?

This three-year project surveys and analyses two main bodies of primary sources – international law and CSR – to identify the uses of due diligence in order to build a theory of a due diligence-based regime of CSR. The study seeks clarity on three essential aspects – the nature, specification and enforcement of due diligence. The aim is to develop a theory of responsible human rights risk management located at the intersection of regulatory, governance and managerial theories. We use comparative and inductive methods to achieve a synthesis of two perspectives in CSR: the polycentric governance and the jurisprudential perspectives.

The significance of our project lies in the building of a theory which will facilitate the assessment and structuring of the emerging CSR regime.

The project is conducted together with the Law Faculty in Lund.

Project period: 2014-2017

Project owner:

Radu Mares

Radu Mares

Research Director, Associate Professor, Leader of Business and Human Rights Thematic Area

Phone: + 46 46 222 12 43
E-mail: radu.mares@rwi.lu.se

Radu has a background in human rights law, specializing in the business and human rights area, with a focus on regulatory and compliance issues raised by multinational enterprises in developing countries. His main research interest is the protection of human rights through economic relations. Some questions that have engaged Radu for a long time are:

  • How does the international human rights system accommodate and interact with the fragmented, overlapping and dynamic landscape of responsible business conduct?
  • How does the shift from corporate voluntarism to hard law happen and how do companies affect the emergence, institutionalization, and diffusion of norms of social responsibility?
  • Can complex regulatory regimes that reject the ‘command-and-control’ approach deliver on their promise to achieve corporate compliance and respect for human rights?

Radu’s research draws on economic law, corporate governance, risk management, regulatory pluralism and global governance. He has also conducted field work in mining areas in Ghana and Peru. His current focus is on the EU green transition, and the impacts of this legislative framework on human rights and environmental protection globally through EU value chains.

Radu is an Associate Professor at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights, the director of the Research and Education Department, and the thematic leader for the Business and Human Rights area at RWI. He is a Doctor of Law (PhD) and a Docent in the Faculty of Law at Lund University. Radu contributes to RWI capacity-strengthening programs for academics, businesses and/or governmental actors in China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Estonia and Belarus, and Asia region. Since 2007 he has taught and supervised at Lund University’s Faculty of Law and more recently at the Economics Faculty. Radu values opportunities to collaborate with colleagues from other disciplines, to explore new linkages between economics and human rights, in education, research, and outreach.

For further updates on his research, please refer to his Research profile:



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