"Human Rights for Workers" commentary on John Ruggie's report: Part 1, on state duty to protect

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Article
24 April 2008

Multinationals, Human Rights, and UN – III

Author: Robert Senser, Human Rights for Workers

Can anything concrete come out of the report that Professor John Ruggie prepared for the June session of the UN Human Rights Council? After all, the report offers just a “framework” for business and human rights, not a program of action. Yet the report is far from a compilation of abstractions. I find that it contains a bundle of specific policy ideas that, if taken seriously by the Council and a few major UN members, will improve the protection of individuals, organizations, and weak OECD governments against what Ruggie calls “corporate-related human rights harm.”...

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Article
22 April 2008

Multinationals, Human Rights, and UN - II

Author: Robert Senser, Human Rights for Workers

[John] Ruggie...commissioned a study of 320 cases of alleged corporate-related human rights abuse reported on the website of the Business and Human Rights Centre during a 33-month period that ended in December 2007. He then had each case coded for the rights the alleged abuses impacted from among those listed in seven key UN human rights documents, including the four core worker rights conventions of the ILO. Ruggie’s empirical study identified 12 labor rights and 17 non-labor rights. That means “there are few if any internationally recognized rights [that] business cannot impact – or be perceived to impact – in some manner.” Ruggie’s conclusion: there are no limits to the rights that companies “should take into account.”

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Article
21 April 2008

Multinationals, Human Rights, and UN - I

Author: Robert Senser, Human Rights for Workers

...[I]n opening a long section on “the state duty to protect,” Ruggie makes an implied criticism of human rights experts. “Within governments and beyond,” those experts have a good understanding of the “general duty” of States to protect human rights. But “less internalized is the diverse array of policy domains through which States may fulfill this duty with respect to business activities…at home and abroad.” In other words, governments have available human rights tools that often remain unused or under-used. Ruggie devotes five pages to them...

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