Research Handbook on Human Rights and Business
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Research Handbook on Human Rights and Business

Edited by Surya Deva and David Birchall

This authoritative Research Handbook brings together leading international scholars and practitioners to provide in-depth analysis of some of the most hotly debated topics and issues concerning the interface of human rights and business. Offering critical insights on prominent strands of research within the field of business and human rights, this comprehensive Research Handbook examines key challenges and potential solutions in the field.
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Chapter 9: The use of disclosure-based regulation to advance the states duty to protect

Jena Martin

Abstract

The aim of this chapter is to analyse whether the business and human rights agenda is well served with national laws that focus on disclosure. The chapter will focus primarily on rules being implemented in the United States at both the subnational and national level; however, it will also discuss approaches being used in European jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom and France and the overall trend towards a transparency model for human rights protection from business activities. The increased use of disclosure-based regulation (and the resulting compliance efforts by corporations) seems to come, at least in part, as a result of the efforts by States to address the duties laid out for them in the UN Guiding Principles. As such, it seems appropriate to undertake an analysis regarding whether these laws are in fact effective at implementing the Guiding Principles. For decades now, disclosure has been held out as the ultimate curative for every corporate woe. The expansion of disclosure initiatives from mere investment-related issues to, increasingly, social policy issues would indicate that this trend will continue. Yet as this chapter demonstrates, disclosure right now is, at best, a temporary stopgap measure that can lead to limited corporate change on the issue of business and human rights. At worst, disclosure is being used by corporations as a way to obtain a reputational advantage without actually making substantive changes – by simply hiding in the light.

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