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Corporate Social Responsibility?Human Rights in the New Global Economy$
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Charlotte Walker-Said and John D. Kelly

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226244273

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226244440.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 27 February 2020

The Virtue of Voluntarism

The Virtue of Voluntarism

Human Rights, Corporate Responsibility, and UN Global Compact

(p.232) Chapter Eleven The Virtue of Voluntarism
Corporate Social Responsibility?

Ursula Wynhoven

Yousuf Aftab

University of Chicago Press

The dichotomy between voluntary and regulatory approaches to achieving corporate responsibility is increasingly recognized as a false one. Instead, there is a new focus on the search for a smart mix of instruments and initiatives to incentivize and disincentivize, to reward and reorient business in the pursuit of corporate responsibility including for human rights. In this wider context, voluntary initiatives serve a variety of functions as a complement, but not substitute for regulation. Using the United Nations Global Compact as an example, this chapter unpacks some of the main contributions of voluntary initiatives. Lack of corporate responsibility is often not the result of rational profit maximizing business decisions. There are information gaps and management system failures that voluntary initiatives are well placed to help address. Among other things, voluntary initiatives focus on the important question of “how” in concrete specific terms corporate responsibility is to be realized. The limits of the law mean that regulation alone is not the panacea. There is an important role for voluntary actions like learning, dialogue and collective approaches and for self-enlightened business interest. And there is the need for all societal actors – consumers, investors, workers, governments - to better align the signals they send to business

Keywords:   voluntary initiative, regulation, corporate responsibility, human rights, business, UN Global Compact, UN Guiding Principles

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