Global Governance and Democracy
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Global Governance and Democracy

A Multidisciplinary Analysis

Edited by Jan Wouters, Antoon Braekman, Matthias Lievens and Emilie Bécault

Globalization needs effective global governance. The important question of whether this governance can also become democratic is, however, the subject of a political and academic debate that began only recently. This multidisciplinary book aims to move this conversation forward by drawing insights from international relations, political theory, international law and international political economy. Focusing on global environmental, economic, security and human rights governance, it sheds new light on the democratic deficit of existing global governance structures, and proposes a number of tools to overcome it.
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Chapter 6: Global business and human rights governance: the case of corporate social responsibility

Stephanie Bijlmakers and Geert Van Calster


Two decades since its emergence in scholarly literature, there is no standing, undisputed definition of global governance. Weiss and Thakur (2010) define global governance as ‘the sum of laws, norms, policies, and institutions that define, constitute, and mediate relations among citizens, society, markets, and the state in the international arena – the wielders and object of international public power’ (Weiss and Thakur 2010, 6). The current chapter understands global governance in somewhat broader terms, encompassing both formal and informal norms, processes, institutions and networks that implicate the relations among the respective governance actors, the wielders and objects of public power on a global scale. The concept of global human rights governance can serve to capture and facilitate the study of those instances of global governance that respond to ‘collective problems with trans-border, especially, global dimensions’ (Weiss and Thakur 2010, 4) in the domain of human rights. Yet, the human rights governance landscape is characterized by great diversity and complexity. Moreover, the theme lends itself to the study of governance arrangements in the wide range of human rights, including political and civil rights; economic, social and cultural rights; group rights (persons belonging to minorities, refugees, disabled persons, migrants, indigenous people, children, women); human trafficking and slavery; all of which face global challenges and thus are vital to arriving at a comprehensive conception of global human rights governance.

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