Corporate rule of law responsibility

Metal Wheel with words Rules, Regulations, Compliance, Standards, Policies

Corporate Rule of Law Responsibility (CRLR) is one of the research domains within the Resilient Rule of Law programme. The research project focuses on the shifting roles of corporations and the relations between corporations, states and civil society in a changing and challenging society. This shift requires resilient rule of law mechanisms, to prevent and redress violations of fundamental rights such as human rights.

The CRLR project looks at corporations which, through globalization and privatization, have taken in dominant positions in present-day society. Through these positions, corporations run the risk of having adverse impacts on human rights and pose new challenges for the governance of corporate activities.


Awareness of corporate involvement in human rights violations has resulted in (the proposal of) various governance mechanisms. These include, for example, 'naming and shaming' activities by civil society organizations, voluntary codes, corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts and reporting obligations. In addition, there are calls to exercise extraterritorial jurisdiction over internationally operating businesses, to extend the jurisdiction of the international criminal court to include legal persons and to draft a binding treaty on business and human rights.

Yet little empirical data is available on whether and how such efforts would actually change corporate behavior. There is a lack of knowledge on how to prevent corporate contributions to the violation of human rights and how to regulate corporate actors so that human rights violations are prevented. Our aim is to contribute to the closing of this knowledge gap by investigating the effectiveness of governance mechanisms on internationally operating businesses.

Various (proposed) regulation mechanisms, implicitly or explicitly, aim to change, prevent or end corporate activity that contributes to human rights violations through (the threat of) reputational damage to these companies. The first stage of the project, therefore, consists of a study into reputational damage resulting from accusations of corporate involvement in human rights violations.

With an initial duration of 2,5 years, the CRLR project will conduct research on the empirical effects of legal and non-legal regulation of large multinational businesses. Taking an empirical approach, the project draws on legal, economic and governance theories and is explicitly interdisciplinary.


Project affiliated Postdoctoral Researcher

    School of Governance

    Resilient Rule of Law

    Corporate Rule of Law Responsibility is one of the three research domains of Resilient Rule of Law. This is a subsidiary theme of Resilient Societies, a multidisciplinary research theme of the Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance