Reflexive Regulation of CSR to Promote Sustainability: Understanding EU Public-private Regulation on CSR through the Case of Human Rights

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This article discusses Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) from the perspective of governmental regulation as a measure to promote public policy interests through public-private regulation intended to influence firms’ self-regulation. Presenting a ‘government case’ for CSR, the connection between climate change and environmental sustainability, and social, economic and other human rights lend human rights as part of CSR a potential for meeting some environmental and climate concerns and handling adverse side-effects. The article analyses two EU initiatives: The EU Multi-Stakeholder (MSF) on CSR and the EU CSR Alliance. Focusing on human rights based in international law, it analyses the patterns of negotiation in the MSF and the background for the launch of the CSR Alliance. It shows that analysing public-private regulation of CSR from the perspective of reflexive law theory assists us in understanding the mechanisms by which public authorities seek to influence firm’s behaviour through CSR in order to promote public policy objectives. The analysis indicates that to be effective, reflexive regulatory approaches to public-private regulation should pay careful attention to procedural design in order to balance power disparities among participants. Finally, the analysis suggests that a juridification of CSR is taking place. This development is welcome because legal theory and scholarship’s insight into institutionalisation of norms of conduct has much to offer to society’s interests in promoting companies’ responsibility with regard to aspects of sustainable development, such as climate impact.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational and Comparative Corporate Law Journal
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)38-76
Number of pages39
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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