The consequentialism of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: towards the fulfilment of ‘do no harm’

Journal article


Birchall, D. The consequentialism of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: towards the fulfilment of ‘do no harm’. Electronic Journal of Business Ethics and Organization Studies.
AuthorsBirchall, D.
Abstract

In this paper I demonstrate that the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) leans heavily on consequentialism to inform the corporate responsibility to respect to human rights. Through the conception of ‘human rights impacts’, the UNGPs adopt a standard of human rights-based negative act consequentialism, capturing any business act that has the outcome of ‘removing or reducing’ an individual’s enjoyment of human rights. Such a lens is necessary because deontological human rights rules inadequately capture the full scope of global business harm to human rights. Consequentialist responsibility offers a much wider scope, of particular use around systemic, macro-level, harm, for example, agri-business decisions that harm the right to food. The great pity is that this consequentialist element goes largely ignored in the literature. Through elucidation and demonstration of the consequentialist ethic therein, this paper hopes to contribute to more ambitious readings of the UNGPs.

JournalElectronic Journal of Business Ethics and Organization Studies
Publication dates
Print01 Mar 2019
Publication process dates
Deposited23 Sep 2021
Accepted author manuscript
File Access Level
Open
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