Business in development: diminishing human rights? Making the case for a human rights based approach to corporate social responsibility

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Baago Rasmussen, Line
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This thesis takes as it’s point of departure the emergent opinion that the engagement of business is needed in order to reach development goals in the third world, and that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is increasingly viewed as the key for pushing this agenda forward. In this respect it takes a critical stand towards CSR as a tool for development and further parts in the normative premise that if companies are to play a contributory role in human rights based development (HRBA), the framework with which companies participate in development, namely the CSR framework, must also be subjected to a rights based approach. By developing a theoretical framework based on a differentiation between the human rights and business approach (HR&B) and the CSR approach, and by undertaking a human rights impact analysis of the CSR-activities of three prominent companies in the CSR field, the thesis identifies limitations as well as opportunities for the inclusion of business in development.The results of the analysis show that CSR-activities can have an adverse impact on the realisation of human rights. Thus, the thesis defends the idea that a more explicit development of the HR&B approach is needed in the CSR strategies promoted by transnational companies, more specifically in economic and social contexts of development. On the basis of this, it suggests for the development of a HRBA to CSR.
Second semester University: University of Deusto, Bilbao.
corporate responsibility, development, human rights, business