The placing of human rights at the centre of business ethics has emerged only in the present decade strongly sustained by the United Nations Global Compact programme. At the centre of a sociological and economical investigation of human rights as a guideline for global business ethics is the question of how to reconcile central values of human rights like human dignity and individual rights with economic profit maximizing values. Whereas the relationship between both has traditionally been regarded as fundamentally opposed, more recent research has pointed out an economic self-interest of business in sustainability and a socially stable environment.
Corporate responses to the human rights agenda have been hampered by the difficulties they face in:
- Defining their responsibilities for human rights: How should and do they decide which human rights claims to accept.
- Establishing the boundaries of their responsibilities for human rights issues, for example their responsibilities in relation to their supply chain, and host governments.
- Assessing risks, setting targets, and measuring and reporting impacts, and finding an appropriate balance between quantitative and qualitative dimensions.
- Responding at the corporate level to an immense variety of local, context dependent human rights claims.
The seminar will provide the basis for study of these and other issues relating to corporate accountability and human rights.