Larry Catá Backer's comments on current issues in transnational law and policy. These essays focus on the constitution of regulatory communities (political, economic, and religious) as they manage their constituencies and the conflicts between them. The context is globalization. This is an academic field-free zone: expect to travel "without documents" through the sometimes strongly guarded boundaries of international relations, constitutional, international, comparative, and corporate law.
My colleague here at Penn State, Nicholas Rowland, an assistant professor
of sociology resident at our Altoona, Pennsylvania campus. He received
his Ph.D. from Indiana University in Bloomington, IN, Department of
Sociology focusing on the Sociology of Technology with a minor study in
Cultural Studies. He is also a principal contributor to Installing (Social) Order, a
blog on the sociology of infrastructure, exploring the sociotechnical
nerves of contemporary society, originally formed as an informal work
group of researchers at Bielefeld University's Department of Sociology.
John Sherman, an expert on the new U.N. Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights has been a driving force
in the efforts to apply human rights principles to the operations of
lawyers and especially to infuse legal practice with the normative
standards embodied in the Guiding Principles.
The Robert Schuman Centre for advanced Studies of the European University Institute recently hosted a debate between Larry Catá Backer (Pennsylvania State University) and Peer Zumbansen (York University) on “Tension Between Public and Private Governance in the Emerging Transnational Legal Order,” April 16, 2012.
My colleague here at Penn State, Nicholas Rowland, an assistant professor of sociology resident at our Altoona, Pennsylvania campus. He received his Ph.D. from Indiana University in Bloomington, IN, Department of Sociology focusing on the Sociology of Technology with a minor study in Cultural Studies. He is also a principal contributor to Installing (Social) Order, a blog on the sociology of infrastructure, exploring the sociotechnical nerves of contemporary society, originally formed as an informal work group of researchers at Bielefeld University's Department of Sociology.
(Pix courtesy Nicholas Rowland)
Rowland has been doing some excellent work looking closely at the state as object, force and event in social, political and economic spaces redefined by globalization. He has graciously consented to writing guest blogs from time to time. It is with great pleasure that I include the first of these here.
One of the thorniest issues of corporate social responsibility involves the liability of corporate actors when they engage in activities that may have an adverse human rights impact under international social norms (so-called soft law adopted through internal corporate governance mechanisms) but which may not constitute a breach of the domestic law of the state where the activity occurs.
Even if the corporation is implicit in the actions of the state, can the corporation be found to have violated its obligations under international norms when the state at whose instance the conduct occurred is not deemed to have violated either its domestic or international law obligations? IKEA has recently discovered the difficulties of a global order in which its global normative obligations may be substantially different than those of the states with whom it participated in activity. It may find itself complicit in acts legal when undertaken by a state within its borders but which are breaches of the corporations global human rights obligations elsewhere. In effect, the issue suggests outlines of that space where the
obligations of corporations to avoid adverse impacts may be greater
than those applicable to states.
My research assistant, Shing Kit Wong, has been researching corporate social responsibility on the ground in China. He had the opportunity to visit China recently as part of graduate course offered by the Pennsylvania State University. While there he had the opportunity to visit a number of Chinese firms, including Baosteel.
The initial version will be presented at the international conference, Societal Constitutionalism and Globalization, hosted by the Hague Institute for the Internationalization of Law and the International University College, Torino, Italy, May 18, 2012. My thanks to Gunther Teubner (Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main) and Anna Beckers (Maastricht University) for organizing this excellent conference.