Bridging the Gap
Edited by Robert C. Bird, Daniel R. Cahoy and Jamie Darin Prenkert
Chapter 2: Human rights reporting as self-interest: The integrative and expressive dimensions of corporate disclosure
Respect for international human rights increasingly hinges on awareness and knowledge concerning the activities of multinational corporations (MNCs) and their impacts. Concern about the effects of global business has led to calls to use mandatory disclosure to advance social goals, such as international human rights and environmental sustainability, under the rubric of corporate social transparency (Williams, 1999). By requiring MNCs to monitor their compliance with law and disclose the social effects of their activities, mandatory disclosure regimes place MNCs front and center in the regulation of international business. The use of mandatory disclosure may be viewed as a means to bridge the processes of human rights due diligence and human rights reporting. Without sufficiently thorough human rights due diligence, corporate reporting will not adequately capture the human rights implications of MNCs’ conduct. Just as importantly, without sufficiently robust reporting mechanisms, information gathered through internal corporate due diligence will be of no use if stakeholders are not adequately apprised of its existence and relevance. A failure to integrate due diligence and reporting impedes the ability of MNCs to respect human rights, regardless of their commitment to its principles. This raises a question that is largely missing from public debate on the relationship between business and human rights: how do we create mandatory disclosure regimes to meet the needs of MNCs themselves? To answer this question, this chapter presents the concept of constructive discourse to help MNCs identify ways in which they might benefit from mandatory disclosure.
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