The Ruggie Framework: Polycentric regulation and the implications for corporate social responsibility
The United Nations ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework,developed by the U.N. Special Representative JohnRuggie, brings together social expectations and law into anemerging policy framework of direct relevance to corporate social responsibility, CSR. The principle source of the Framework’s significance for the policy and practice of CSR is its definition of the theory of business responsibility for human rights as arising from business activities and relationships, and its deployment of due diligence for human rights risk as the core operational concept of this theory of responsibility. The article considers the responsibility to respect human rights in light of theories about polycentric regulatory regimes and draws the conclusion that the Ruggie Framework creates a regulator dynamic in which both voluntarism and law have relevant and reinforcing roles to play in governing business behavior. In the wake of the adaptation of the Framework by the UN, the challenge for the field of CSR will be to adapt to an emerging reality in which business responsibility for ‘the social’ is increasingly a question of compliance and beyond.