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Article

Social Impact Assessment and Mediation

Journal Corporate Mediation Journal, Issue 1 2020
Keywords Social impact, Business to Community mediation
Authors Eelco De Groot
AbstractAuthor's information

    A Social Impact Assessment is often a formal requirement to determine and prevent social risks at greenfield development of complex infrastructural projects. This article discusses the background and building blocks with the different tiers of Business to Community mediation; a neutral, facilitated, dialogue and information sharing, negotiation, joint fact-finding and formal mediation.


Eelco De Groot
Eelco de Groot is an advisor at Social License and senior lecturer Social Risk Management at the TU Delft.
Article

Access_open The Dutch International Responsible Business Conduct Agreements

Effective Initiatives?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2019
Keywords IRBC Agreements, effectiveness, OECD due diligence, access to remedy
Authors Martijn Scheltema
AbstractAuthor's information

    This contribution analyses the effectiveness of the Dutch International Responsible Business Conduct (IRBC) agreements and suggests some avenues for improvement. Several challenges in connection with effectiveness have been identified in evaluations of the IRBC agreements, and these are used as a starting point for the analysis. The focus is on three themes: (i) uptake, leverage and collaboration; (ii) implementation of OECD due diligence including monitoring and (iii) access to remedy. This contribution shows that low uptake may not be a sign of ineffectiveness per se, although in terms of leverage a sufficient number of participants or collaboration between agreements seems important. In connection with due diligence, it is recommended to align the implementation of OECD due diligence. Furthermore, an effective monitoring mechanism by a secretariat, as is currently implemented in the Textile agreement only, is most likely to bring about material changes in business behaviour. Other types of supervision seem less effective. Access to remedy poses a challenge in all IRBC agreements. It is recommended that the expectations the agreements have on access to remedy be clarified, also in connection with the role of signatories to the agreements in cases where they are directly linked to human rights abuse. Furthermore, it is recommended that a dispute resolution mechanism be introduced that enables complaints for external stakeholders against business signatories, comparable to that of the Textile agreement. However, rather than implementing separate mechanisms in all agreements, an overarching mechanism for all agreements should be introduced.


Martijn Scheltema
Martijn Scheltema is Professor of Private law at Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Introduction

Access_open Towards Responsible Business Conduct in Global Value Chains

Relevant Legal Developments in the Netherlands

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2019
Keywords responsible business conduct, business and human rights, corporate social responsibility, sustainable development, the Netherlands
Authors Liesbeth Enneking and Jeroen Veldman
AbstractAuthor's information

    The past few decades have seen an increasing scrutiny of the impacts – both positive and negative – that companies have on the societies in which they operate. The search for adequate responses to such scrutiny is reflected in developments in the societal, political and academic debate on three separate but interrelated concepts: corporate social responsibility, business and human rights and responsible business conduct. The focus in this Special Issue will be on law and policy relating to responsible business conduct in global value chains. The contributions in this Special Issue identify relevant developments and institutions in the Netherlands, including rules and regulations related to trade, investment and corporate governance as well as cases related to corporate and consumer responsibilities, and assess their role in relation to the potential to provide a positive response to the concern about the human and environmental impacts of business activities. Together, they provide a multi-perspective view of relevant gaps and/or best practices with regard to regulatory governance in the Netherlands while at the same time enabling a comparative debate on the extent to which these diverse developments and institutions are in line with stated policy goals in this context both at national and EU levels. In doing so, this Special Issue aims to contribute to further coherence between national and EU policies with regard to RBC in global value chains and sustainable development.


Liesbeth Enneking
Liesbeth Enneking is Professor of Legal Aspects of International Corporate Social Responsibility at Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Jeroen Veldman
Jeroen Veldman is Visiting Associate Professor at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Visiting Associate Professor at Mines Paristech, Interdisciplinary Institute for Innovation, Paris and Section Editor Corporate Governance at the Journal of Business Ethics.
Article

Access_open Due Diligence and Supply Chain Responsibilities in Specific Instances

The Compatibility of the Dutch National Contact Point’s Decisions With the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises in the Light of Decisions Made by the UK, German, Danish and Norwegian National Contact Points

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2019
Keywords due diligence, supply chain, OECD, NCP, specific instance
Authors Sander van ’t Foort
AbstractAuthor's information

    Since the introduction of a human rights chapter in the 2011 OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, National Contact Points (NCPs) have been increasingly dealing with specific instances referring to human rights violations by companies. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the human rights provisions are the most cited provisions of the Guidelines. Specific instances include allegations such as a company’s failure to implement human rights due diligence, to apply the principles of free, prior and informed consent, to take supply chain responsibility, and/or to comply with the right to cultural heritage. Of all topics, human rights due diligence and human rights supply chain responsibilities are most commonly referred to in complaints based on the Guidelines. This article focuses on how NCPs have handled these topics of human rights due diligence and supply chain responsibility in specific instances. The Dutch NCP has been selected because it is celebrated in literature as the ‘gold standard’ because of its composition including independent members, its forward-looking approach, and because it is one of the most active NCPs in the world. All decisions of the Dutch NCP concerning these two topics are analysed in the light of the decisions of four other NCPs (UK, Denmark, Germany and Norway). A doctrinal methodology is used to analyse similarities and differences between the argumentations of the five NCPs.


Sander van ’t Foort
Sander van ’t Foort is Lecturer at Nyenrode Business University.

Eszter Bianka Sütő
PhD candidate, University of Debrecen.
Article

Access_open The Integrity of the Tax System after BEPS: A Shared Responsibility

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2017
Keywords flawed legislation, tax privileges, tax planning, corporate social responsibility, tax professionals
Authors Hans Gribnau
AbstractAuthor's information

    The international tax system is the result of the interaction of different actors who share the responsibility for its integrity. States and multinational corporations both enjoy to a certain extent freedom of choice with regard to their tax behaviour – which entails moral responsibility. Making, interpreting and using tax rules therefore is inevitably a matter of exercising responsibility. Both should abstain from viewing tax laws as a bunch of technical rules to be used as a tool without any intrinsic moral or legal value. States bear primary responsibility for the integrity of the international tax system. They should become more reticent in their use of tax as regulatory instrument – competing with one another for multinationals’ investment. They should also act more responsibly by cooperating to make better rules to prevent aggressive tax planning, which entails a shift in tax payments from very expert taxpayers to other taxpayers. Here, the distributive justice of the tax system and a level playing field should be guaranteed. Multinationals should abstain from putting pressure on states and lobbying for favourable tax rules that disproportionally affect other taxpayers – SMEs and individual taxpayers alike. Multinationals and their tax advisers should avoid irresponsible conduct by not aiming to pay a minimalist amount of (corporate income) taxes – merely staying within the boundaries of the letter of the law. Especially CSR-corporations should assume the responsibility for the integrity of the tax system.


Hans Gribnau
Professor of Tax Law, Fiscal Institute and the Center for Company Law, Tilburg University; Professor of Tax Law, Leiden University, The Netherlands.
Article

ChAFTA, Trade, and Food Safety

When the Rubber Hits the Road

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2016
Keywords food safety laws in China and implementation issues, China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), agricultural trade, corporate social responsibility, collaborative governance
Authors Ying Chen
AbstractAuthor's information

    Over the past decade, food safety has evolved into a compelling issue in China. The Chinese government has been committed to strengthening the regulatory framework. A series of laws and regulations ensuring the quality and safety of food in the interests of public health have been promulgated. However, a fairly comprehensive set of laws, along with harsh punishments, does not substantially deter food safety violations. Rather, foodborne illnesses continue to occur on a daily basis. How to improve food safety has become China’s national priority; it is also the main focus of this research. This article determines that one of the main obstacles to food safety is poor implementation of laws. It identifies the external and internal impediments to food safety governance in China. It further proposes an evolving series of potential solutions. Externally, weak enforcement undermines the credibility of the food safety laws. Internally, food manufacturers and distributors in China lack the sense of corporate social responsibility (CSR). To effectively reduce or even remove the external impediment, it is imperative to improve the overall governance in various sectors. As for the internal impediment, incorporating CSR principles into business operations is vital for food safety governance. In fact, the enforcement of many regional trade agreements, in particular, the enforcement of China–Australia FTA (ChAFTA) will largely increase market share of Australian food products in China. Undoubtedly, Chinese food businesses will face unprecedented competition. The pressure to gain competitive advantages in food markets yields an enormous change in motivation for Chinese food businesses. Chinese food companies will ultimately be forced to ‘voluntarily’ integrate CSR principles into their business operations. A significant change in the food sector is expected to be seen within the next decade. The article concludes that better practice in food safety governance in China requires two essential elements: a comprehensive regulatory and cooperative framework with essential rules and institutions, and an effective implementation mechanism involving both the public and private sectors.


Ying Chen
Dr. Ying Chen, Lecturer in Law, University of New England School of Law, Armidale, NSW2351, Australia. Email: ychen56@une.edu.au.
Article

Access_open Corporate Social Responsibility via Shareholders’ Proposals

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 1 2015
Keywords corporate social responsibility, shareholders, Rule 14a-8, social proposals, strategy
Authors Maria Paz Godoy Uson
AbstractAuthor's information

    Can shareholders’ proposals be considered as a mainstream alternative to incorporate social and environmental policies into the core businesses strategy? Proposing non-financial resolutions at the general meeting of shareholders is a form of shareholders’ activism that is shaping company’s direction. The American court case Lovenheim v. Iroquois Brands, Ltd. confirms that social and environmental issues, when significantly related to the core business, can give rise to new business directions firmly promoted by shareholders, resting authorial power to the board of directors in conducting the company’s direction. The US SEC Rule 14a-8 is widely used by social activists and institutional investors to influence the direction of business in becoming more sustainable. In virtue of the American Rule 14a-8, shareholders may include proposals in the company’s proxy materials and, thereby, compel a vote on the issue at the annual shareholders’ meeting. The result is that American shareholders’ proposals are being considered as an effective gateway to improve corporations’ social and environmental behaviour. This article examines, from a comparative perspective, the further developments of shareholders’ social proposals with the attempt to incorporate social and environmental policies into the core business. The article also suggests that the increasing demand of social proposals promoted by American shareholders versus the limited activity of shareholders’ proposals in Continental European jurisdictions is precipitating the process of converge between the main corporate governance models; the shareholder-oriented model and the stakeholder-oriented model, respectively. The issue of CSR via shareholders’ proposals as presented here is primarily based on literature and various cases related to SEC 14a-8, more in particular on lessons drawn from Lovenheim v. Iroquois Brands, Ltd.


Maria Paz Godoy Uson
PhD Fellow Maastricht University.
Article

Another Type of Deficit?

Human Rights, Corporate Social Responsibility, and the Shaping of the European Union’s Linkage Strategy

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2014
Keywords human rights, corporate social responsibility, linkage strategy
Authors Aurora Voiculescu
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article engages with the European Union’s continuing strategy, in the context of the economic crisis, of addressing the human rights deficit of the current economic model by promoting a multifarious normative linkage between the economic, market-driven sphere and the human rights-anchored social sphere. The article looks into issues of normativity associated with the EU linkage agenda and interrogates some of its institutional and conceptual elements. It contends that, while the linkage discourse depends on a multitude of actors and factors, the EU encompasses a number of features that – by entropy as much as by design – facilitate an interrogation of the normative set-up that currently holds between human rights and the market mechanisms. The first part of the article addresses the linkage or ‘trade and’ debate that carries distinct nuances within contemporary international economic law. In the second part, the potential as well as the challenges brought about by the EU as a socio-political entity highlight the bringing together of competing normative issues. Lastly, the article considers the EU conceptual inroads in developing the necessary tools for consolidating and addressing the linkage agenda. Through this analysis, the article highlights an essential, dynamic nexus and a search for normative synchronisation between the economic development model and the social model. It is argued that coupling this nexus with a conceptual rethinking can increase the chances of matching the so far rhetorical persuasiveness of the linkage discourse with the so far elusive conceptual coherence and policy consistency.


Aurora Voiculescu
Westminster International Law and Theory Centre, University of Westminster, London, United Kingdom. A first draft of this paper was presented at the workshop organised by the Centre for the Law of EU External Relations (CLEER) ‘Linking trade and non-commercial interests: the EU as a global role model?’, on 9 November 2012 at the TMC Asser Institute, The Hague. I am very grateful to the workshop participants as well as to Tamara Takacs, Andrea Ott, and Angelos Dimopoulos for the very insightful comments that helped me develop the paper further. Of course, all remaining mistakes are entirely mine.
Article

Access_open The Role of Private International Law in Corporate Social Responsibility

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2014
Keywords CSR, conflicts of law, Kiobel, Shell
Authors Geert Van Calster Ph.D.
AbstractAuthor's information

    This contribution firstly reviews developments in the EU and in the United States on corporate social responsibility and conflict of laws. It concludes with reference to some related themes, in particular on the piercing of the corporate veil and with some remarks on compliance strategy, and compliance reality, for corporations.


Geert Van Calster Ph.D.
Geert van Calster is professor at the University of Leuven and Head of Leuven Law's department of European and international law.
Article

Access_open Can Corporate Law on Groups Assist Groups to Effectively Address Climate Change?

A Cross-Jurisdictional Analysis of Barriers and Useful Domestic Corporate Law Approaches Concerning Group Identification and Managing a Common Climate Change Policy

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 3 2014
Authors Tineke Lambooy and Jelena Stamenkova van Rumpt
Author's information

Tineke Lambooy
Tineke Lambooy is Professor Corporate Law at Nyenrode Business University and Associate Professor Corporate Social Responsibility at Utrecht University.

Jelena Stamenkova van Rumpt
Jelena Stamenkova van Rumpt, LLM, is Advisor Responsible Investment at PGGM (Dutch Asset Manager for Pension Funds).
Article

Access_open Parental Liability for Externalities of Subsidiaries

Domestic and Extraterritorial Approaches

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 3 2014
Keywords company law, group liability, comparative approach, liability matrix, statutory/judicial approaches
Authors Linn Anker-Sørensen
AbstractAuthor's information

    This paper offers a structural tool for examining various parental liability approaches for the externalities of its subsidiaries, meaning in the context of this paper, the negative environmental impact of their operations. In order to conclude that the parent is liable for externalities of subsidiaries, one must be able to bypass the corporate privileges of separate legal personality and limited liability, either within traditional company law or within alternative approaches offered by notably tort and environmental law. The overall acceptance of companies within groups as single entities, instead of recognition of their factual, often closely interlinked economic relationship, is a well-known barrier within traditional company law. The situation is exacerbated by the general lack of an extraterritorial liability approach and of enforcement of the rare occurrences of such liability within the traditional company law context. This paper explores various liability approaches found in jurisdictions worldwide mainly based on mapping papers from the international Sustainable Companies Project. The author introduces a matrix in order to systemize the different approaches, distinguishing between three levels: domestic and extraterritorial, statutory and judicial and indirect and direct liability. A proper distinction between the different liability approaches can be valuable in order to identify the main barriers to group liability in regulation and in jurisprudence.


Linn Anker-Sørensen
Research assistant in the Research Group Companies, Markets, Society and the Environment and its Sustainable Companies Project, Faculty of Law, University of Oslo (jus.uio.no/companies under Projects).
Article

Access_open The EU Response to the Trade in Conflict Minerals from Central Africa

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 1 2014
Keywords corporate social responsibility, conflict minerals, private regulation, public regulation, European Union
Authors Tomas Königs, Sohail Wahedi and Tjalling Waterbolk
AbstractAuthor's information

    The trade in conflict minerals has led to the eruption and conservation of conflicts and gross violations of human rights, in particular in the central African region. In response, various public and private entities have taken measures to counter this development. The purpose of this essay is to analyze how the European Union, in light of its promotion of corporate social responsibility, should regulate the behaviour of multinational companies dealing with minerals from conflict-ridden areas. In light of recent initiatives taken by the UN, the United States and the mineral-extraction industry, it is examined whether the EU should adopt public regulation or whether it should continue its promotion of private self-regulatory regimes. The authors argue that the EU should promote regulation at the level that provides the strongest incentive for companies to comply with their duties. This article shows that both private and public regulation have their limitations in regulating the trade in conflict minerals and that the EU should thus adopt a mix of both. In doing so, the development of transparency norms can be delegated to companies, stakeholders and other affected parties, while the EU could provide for an effective accountability mechanism to enforce these norms.


Tomas Königs
Tomas Königs is a graduate student of the Legal Research Master (LLM) at Utrecht University.

Sohail Wahedi
Sohail Wahedi is a graduate student of the Legal Research Master (LLM) at Utrecht University.

Tjalling Waterbolk
Tjalling Waterbolk is a graduate student of the Legal Research Master (LLM) at Utrecht University.

Martijn Scheltema
Martijn Scheltema is partner with Pels Rijcken & Droogleever Fortuijn (a The Hague-based law firm), professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam and member of the governing board of ACCESS (see <www.ACCESSfacility.org>). This article is based on research conducted by the author on effectiveness of remedy outcomes of non-judicial mechanisms on behalf of ACCESS and the United Nations Working Group on Human Rights.
Article

Access_open The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct

Soft Law with Hard Consequences

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 4 2013
Keywords Corporate Social Responsibility, Responsible Business Conduct, Supply chain responsibility, Labor standards, Human rights
Authors Roel Nieuwenkamp
AbstractAuthor's information

    OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are the most comprehensive international public standard on all areas of CSR with 46 adherent governments. The unique feature of the Guidelines is its grievance mechanism. The National Contact Points for the OECD Guidelines serve as a complaints and problem solving mechanism for trade unions and NGO’s related to for example human rights and labor standards. Since 2011 the Guidelines apply not only to investments but also to global supply chains. The concept of CSR Due Diligence in the supply chains is now a key pillar of CSR.


Roel Nieuwenkamp
Prof. Dr. Roel Nieuwenkamp is Chair of the OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct. In this capacity, he supervises the corporate responsibility work of the OECD, invests in outreach to non-adherent countries and provides leadership to CSR programmes, e.g. on the financial sector, mining sector, etc. Since 2010, he is part-time professor of public administration at the University of Amsterdam.
Article

Access_open Business Enterprises and the Environment

Corporate Environmental Responsibility

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 4 2013
Keywords Corporate Environmental Responsibility, Environmental Due Diligence, Environmental CSR, Business enterprises and the environment, Environmental complement to Ruggie Framework
Authors Katinka D. Jesse and Erik V. Koppe
AbstractAuthor's information

    In 2011, following his 2005 initial mandate of the UN Commission on Human Rights and his extended 2008 mandate of the UN Human Rights Council, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on the issues of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, Professor John Ruggie, issued the final text of the ‘Guiding Principles for the Implementation of the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework”‘. The 2008 Framework on Business and Human Rights and the complementing 2011 Guiding Principles consist of three pillars: the duty of states to protect human rights, the responsibility of business enterprises to respect human rights, and access to remedies for victims of human rights abuses. They currently qualify as the dominant paradigm in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) discourse, also because they now form part of various soft law and self-regulation initiatives. The Framework and Guiding Principles do not, however, specifically focus on environmental issues, but their systematic approach and structure do provide a model to address state duties and business responsibilities to care of the environment. This article is intended to complement the UN Framework and Guiding Principles on business and human rights with principles in the field of business and the environment. Hence, it is submitted that states have a customary duty to care for the environment; it is similarly submitted that business enterprises have a responsibility to care for the environment; and it is submitted that stakeholders must have access to remedies in relation to breaches of these duties and responsibilities.


Katinka D. Jesse
Dr. Katinka D. Jesse is post-doctoral research fellow at North-West University, South Africa.

Erik V. Koppe
Dr. Erik V. Koppe is assistant professor of public international law at Leiden Law School, The Netherlands. This article is partly based on research conducted by Jesse and Koppe as HUGO Fellows at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies in Wassenaar in the fall of 2011.

Jan Eijsbouts
Prof. A. Jan A.J. Eijsbouts, Institute for Corporate Law, Governance and Innovation Policies, Faculty of Law, Maastricht University.
Article

Access_open Better Access to Remedy in Company-Community Conflicts in the Field of CSR

A Model for Company-Based Grievance Mechanisms

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 4 2013
Keywords CSR, human rights, grievance mechanism, interest-based approach, rights-based approach
Authors Cristina Cedillo
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Special Representative to the UN Secretary-General on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, John Ruggie, establishes access to remedy as one of the three pillars of the UN ‘Protect, Respect, Remedy’ Framework. In this Framework, Ruggie prescribes that company-based grievance mechanisms can be one effective means of enabling remediation to those potentially being impacted by business enterprises’ activities. This report proposes a model for company-based grievance mechanisms that follow a combination of interest-based and rights-compatible approaches to conflict resolution of all corporate social responsibility issues in company–stakeholder relationships.


Cristina Cedillo
Cristina Cedillo (MA, LLM) participated in the master’s programme in International Business Law and Globalization at the Utrecht University School of Law, Economics and Governance, Utrecht (The Netherlands). The author is very grateful to Serge Bronkhorst and Tineke Lambooy for their guidance and helpful comments on earlier drafts.

    The Dutch non-profit Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and Amnesty International – Netherlands (AI-NL) commissioned in 2012 a study on transparency of multinational enterprises to the Utrecht University’s Molengraaff Institute for Private Law. With this study SOMO and AI-NL aim to substantiate the need for enhancing corporate transparency in order to stimulate responsible business conduct and be able to hold companies to account for adverse impacts they cause or contribute to.


Joris Oldenziel
Joris Oldenziel is program manager and senior researcher at the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO).

Heleen Tiemersma
Heleen Tiemersma is business and human rights specialist at Amnesty International.
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