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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.

Michel Kallipetis
Michel Kallipetis QC FCIArb is the former Head of Littleton Chambers, and has 40 years’ experience as a practising barrister in the field of general commercial, professional negligence and employment work.
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.
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.
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.
Article

Access_open Multinationals and Transparency in Foreign Direct Liability Cases

The Prospects for Obtaining Evidence under the Dutch Civil Procedural Regime on the Production of Exhibits

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 3 2013
Keywords foreign direct liability, corporate social responsibility, transparency document disclosure, Dutch Shell Nigeria case
Authors Liesbeth F.H. Enneking
AbstractAuthor's information

    On 30 January 2013, the The Hague district court rendered a final judgment with respect to a number of civil liability claims against Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) and its Nigerian subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) that had been pursued by four Nigerian farmers and the Dutch NGO Milieudefensie in relation to various oil spills from SPDC-operated pipelines in the Nigerian Niger Delta. This case is the first Dutch example of a broader, worldwide trend towards similar transnational civil liability procedures against multinational corporations for harm caused to people and planet in developing host countries. This worldwide trend towards so-called ‘foreign direct liability cases’ and the Dutch Shell Nigeria case in particular raise many interesting socio-political as well as legal questions. This article will focus on the question what the prospects are for plaintiffs seeking to pursue such claims before a Dutch court when it comes to obtaining evidence under the Dutch civil procedural regime on the production of exhibits. This is a highly relevant question, since the proceedings in the Dutch Shell Nigeria case seem to indicate that the relatively restrictive Dutch regime on the production of exhibits in civil procedures may potentially impose a structural barrier on the access to remedies before Dutch courts of the victims of corporate violations of people and planet abroad.


Liesbeth F.H. Enneking
Liesbeth Enneking is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at UCALL, Utrecht University’s multidisciplinary Centre for Accountability and Liability Law, and an Assistant Professor of Private International Law at Utrecht University’s Molengraaff Institute for Private Law. The author would like to thank prof. I. Giesen for comments on an earlier version of this article.

    In this article a non-binding global standard for solution of cross-border insolvency proceedings is introduced. These Global Principles for Cooperation in International Insolvency Cases can be used both in civil-law as well as common-law jurisdictions, and aim to cover all jurisdictions in the world. They are addressed to judges, insolvency practitioners and scholars, and aim to contribute to an improved global architecture of international insolvency.


Bob Wessels
Prof. Dr. Bob Wessels is an independent legal counsel in Dordrecht, The Netherlands, and professor International Insolvency Law, University of Leiden, School of Law. He can be reached at: info@bobwessels.nl.
Editorial

Access_open Validity and Compatibility of the SAM and KLD Screening Instruments

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 1 2012
Keywords Corporate sustainability performance (measurement), screening instruments, sustainability rating agencies, Sustainable Asset Management (SAM), Corporate Sustainability Analysis Framework (CSAF), sustainability (reporting) guidelines, content analysis, Sustainability Items
Authors Egbert Dommerholt
AbstractAuthor's information

    The discussion about corporate sustainability performance already has a rich and longstanding history.Todate corporate sustainability performance is a key issue in many companies. However, when asked what it means or how to apply this construct in a concrete business context, many entrepreneurs and managers are not able to give an answer. This confusion may be due to the multitude of definitions and descriptions of corporate sustainability performance constructs.To get a better understanding of corporate sustainability performance and to help companies shape their corporate sustainability performance, a plenitude of (reporting) guidelines are available today. However, because of a rich variation in foci, these guidelines also contribute to the corporate sustainability performance confusion among business people.Companies are no longer solely judged on the financial performance, but they also have to account for their sustainability performance to a variety of stakeholders. However, along with the increasing attention of stakeholders for corporate sustainability performance, the number of organizations that assessing companies’ governance, social, ecological and economic performance also increasesThe aim of this paper is to research the validity and compatibility of the screening instruments of two widely respected sustainability rating agencies: the Zurich (Switzerland) based Sustainable Asset Management Group (SAM) and the Boston (USA) based KLD analytics, Inc (KLD). These screening instruments are benchmarked against the Corporate Sustainability Analysis Framework designed and developed by Dommerholt 2009. The results suggest that the SAM and KLD instruments are imperfect measures of corporate sustainability performance, implying that the validity of these measures is questionable. The results also show that the screening instruments are not really compatible indicating that these instruments cannot be used interchangeably because of differences in the underlying conceptions of corporate sustainability performance. Therefore we can say that these screening instruments too seem to add to the confusions surrounding corporate sustainability performance (measurement).


Egbert Dommerholt
Lecturer at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen and research associate at the Institute of Corporate Law, Governance and Innovation Policy (ICGI) of the Maastricht University.
Article

Access_open Public and Private Regulation

Mapping the Labyrinth

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 1 2012
Keywords private regulation, regulatory impact assessment, standard-setting, voluntary certification, sustainabbility reporting, effectiveness indicators, governance indicators
Authors Fabrizio Cafaggi and Andrea Renda
AbstractAuthor's information

    Private governance is currently being evoked as a viable solution to many public policy goals. However, in some circumstances it has shown to produce more harm than good, and even disastrous consequences like in the case of the financial crisis that is raging in most advanced economies. Although the current track record of private regulatory schemes is mixed, policy guidance documents around the world still require that policymakers award priority to self- and co-regulation, with little or no additional guidance being given to policymakers to devise when, and under what circumstances, these solutions can prove viable from a public policy perspective. With an array of examples from several policy fields, this paper approaches regulation as a public-private collaborative form and attempts to identify possible policy tools to be applied by public policymakers to efficiently and effectively approach private governance as a solution, rather than a problem. We propose a six-step theoretical framework and argue that IA techniques should: (i) define an integrated framework including both the possibility that private regulation can be used as an alternative or as a complement to public legislation; (ii) Involve private parties in public IAs in order to define the best strategy or strategies that would ensure achievement of the regulatory objectives; and (iii) Contemplate the deployment of indicators related to governance and activities of the regulators and their ability to coordinate and solve disputes with other regulators.


Fabrizio Cafaggi
European University Institute, Fiesole Università di Trento (F. Cafaggi).

Andrea Renda
LUISS Guido Carli, Rome; Centre for European Policy Studies, Brussels; European University Institute, Fiesole (A. Renda).
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