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24 Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 43 (2017)


This Article takes a human rights law perspective on the issue of enforcing corporate social responsibility. While corporations receive a variety of rights under international law, they do not equally hold a corresponding set of duties. The Article assesses the merits and shortcomings of existing initiatives to bridge this gap, in particular the Special Representative to the Secretary-General's (legally nonbinding) Framework and Guiding Principles, as well as the most recent initiative at the United Nations Human Rights Council on developing a (legally binding) treaty on business and human rights. While emphasizing that existing legal frameworks-such as human rights law, international criminal law, and international investment law-do not suffice to close this loophole (of corporations being rights bearing but not rights bound), the Article remains equally skeptical about the prospects for a new legally binding treaty. Even if such a treaty were realized, it remains largely unclear how and by which bodies such a treaty would be enforced toward corporations. The authors suggest concentrating efforts on improving the enforceability of existing standards under the Framework and Guiding Principles rather than striving for a new treaty, and to do so on the international, but even more on the national, level.