Jeffery Smith — Corporate Involvement in Human Rights Abuse

“Corporate Involvement in Human Rights Abuse”
Jeffery Smith, DePauw University, Prindle Institute for Ethics & University of Redlands
November 8, 2013

Abstract: John Ruggie, the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Representative on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations, has written a number of prominent reports that outline a comprehensive framework to help understand the role of transnational corporations in the violation and protection of human rights. Central to this framework is the idea that although human rights need to be protected by states, transnational corporations have obligations to respect human rights in their operations and should sometimes be part of broad-based institutional responses to remedy human rights violations after they have occurred. This presentation introduces and examines Ruggie’s tripartite framework–the so-called “protect, respect and remedy” framework–paying particular attention to the ways that transnational corporations can be morally complicit in the violation of human rights. It is argued that a clearer understanding of complicity and its dimensions will improve the application and implementation of Ruggie’s framework, especially as it relates to the roles that transnational corporations have in remedying human rights violations.

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