Law, Business and Human Rights
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Law, Business and Human Rights

Bridging the Gap

Edited by Robert C. Bird, Daniel R. Cahoy and Jamie Darin Prenkert

The intersection of business and human rights contains substantial economic, social, and political implications. Global business enterprises and civil society groups must establish a constructive and meaningful dialogue in order to work cooperatively to protect human rights. In this innovative book, the authors explore the role of firms in respecting human rights and explain the need for a better understanding of the human rights of affected stakeholders. The goal is to draw attention to these issues and generate common ground between two potentially disparate and conflicting interests.
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Chapter 8: Conflict minerals and polycentric governance of business and human rights

Jamie Darin Prenkert


During his mandate and since, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises (“SRSG”) John Ruggie referred to the “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework (“PRR framework”) and the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (“Guiding Principles”) as a polycentric governance system (Ruggie, 2013, p._78; Ruggie, 2011). Backer (2011), Taylor (2012), and others have done so as well. But what exactly that means has not been very carefully elucidated. This chapter places that description in the context of a deep and varied literature on polycentric governance and evaluates the PRR framework in that light. In particular, the chapter uses as a case study an emerging potential polycentric governance system related to the sourcing of certain minerals from conflicted-affected countries in the African Great Lakes region to explore these issues. The conflict minerals regulatory regime incorporates a notable number of the concerns and opportunities Ruggie highlighted and promoted in the PRR framework and Guiding Principles. The chapter concludes with a recommendation for further study of the business and human rights sector generally, and conflict minerals regulation specifically, in accordance with the polycentric governance literature. The concept of polycentricity has been utilized in a number of different ways by scholars from a number of different disciplines. This section describes the concept’s history and development and then explores its relevance to business and human rights.

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