Governance & Accountability

Corporations have become increasingly global--their structures, activities and influence extending well beyond national boundaries. State-based regulation on its own is not sufficient to address the governance and accountability challenges of today, which stretch across state borders and engage a broad array of interested stakeholders beyond business and government alone. Various approaches have been developed to address these governance gaps. Some appear to be stop-gap alternatives to regulation. Others appear to be more permanent features of a globalizing and democratizing environment. They include codes of conduct, certification schemes, multi-stakeholder initiatives, grievance mechanisms, stakeholder panels, the use of social media, and other instruments that help to shape the actions of private entities in situations where formal regulatory systems are weak, absent or just inadequate to the task. Our research describes and assesses these evolving systems.

Much of the research and advisory support in the Governance & Accountability workstream has focused on CRI Faculty Chair John Ruggie's work as UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative (SRSG) on Business and Human Rights. In particular, most project work undertaken in the areas of The State Role in Business and Human Rights and Access to Remedy is in direct support of the SRSG’s mandate. CRI also supported the SRSG’s work to operationalize the concept of the corporate responsibility to respect human rights. On June 16, 2011, the UN Human Rights Council endorsed the “Protect, Respect, and Remedy” framework led by Professor Ruggie. As part of the Ruggie mandate, CRI worked to develop and then pilot a set of criteria for effective non-judicial grievance mechanisms. The final report, "Piloting Principles for Effective Company-Stakeholder Grievance Mechanisms: A Report of Lessons Learned," may be accessed here.

CRI works closely with Shift, an independent, non-profit center for business and human rights practice that works with governments, businesses and their stakeholders to help put the Guiding Principles into practice through four program areas: a business learning program, government engagement, international partnerships, and education and outreach. CRI and Shift are working together on an ongoing project focusing on company-community dialogue. Their film series won “best communication or publication” award at the biennial Centre for Effective Dispute Resolutions (CEDR) awards ceremony in 2012. The series makes a compelling case for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods and processes, using real life corporate-community case studies to show the immediate and long term benefits of facilitated dialogue. 

Additional relevant documents and reports include:

John Ruggie's keynote speech at the Above Ground/ICAR Conference in Ottawa: Business & Human Rights: Bringing Responsibility Home. 28 September 2017

John Ruggie's keynote speech at the launch of Chile's National Action Plan to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, attended by President Michelle Bachelet and other leaders from government, business and civil society in Santiago. August 2017 

Money, Millennials and Human Rights: Sustaining 'Sustainable Investing' 
John G. Ruggie and Emily K. Middleton | June 2017  | CRI Working Paper No. 69

Multinationals as global institution: Power, authority and relative autonomy. June 2017 | John Ruggie 

The Social Construction of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. June 2017 | John G. Ruggie

Reinforcing Regulatory Regimes: How States, Civil Society, and Codes of Conduct Promote Adherence to Global Labor Standards Michael W. Toffel, Jodi L. Short, and Melissa Ouellet | January 2013 | CRI Working Paper No. 65

Respecting Human Rights Through Global Supply Chains | October 2012 | Shift Workshop Report No. 2

Conflict Management and Corporate Culture in the Extractives Sector: A Study in Peru. Caroline Rees, Deanna Kemp, and Rachel Davis | September 2012 | CRI Report No. 50

Embedding Respect for Human Rights Within a Company's Operations | June 2012 | Shift Workshop Report No. 1