The ‘Corporate Rule of Law Responsibility’ (CRLR) project is part of the ‘resilient societies’ research theme of the Faculty of Law Economics and Governance, funded by the 2016 Research Impulse Fund. Within this research theme, studies focus on the shifting roles of, and relations between, various actors 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.
Awareness about the possibilities of corporations to become involved in human rights violations has resulted in various governance mechanisms proposed to address these risks. These include, for example, 'naming and shaming' activities by civil society organizations, voluntary codes, corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts, reporting obligations as well as calls to extend the jurisdiction of the international criminal court to include legal persons. Yet little empirical data is available on whether such efforts would actually change corporate behavior and/or prevent corporate contributions to the violation of human rights. Our aim is to close this gap in knowledge by investigating the effectiveness of governance mechanisms on corporate multinational activity.
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. The first stage of the project consists of a study into reputational damage as a regulatory mechanism for corporate (involvement in) human rights violations. In terms of impact, the aim is to develop high-quality research and add to (inter)national policy debates on how existing legal and non-legal mechanisms can be made (more) effective, making adequate use of existing forces & incentives within corporations.