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Changing Sustainability Norms through Communication Processes

The Emergence of the Business and Human Rights Regime as Transnational Law Karin Buhmann, Professor of Business and Human Rights, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
This book traces the development of the Business & Human Rights (BHR) regime that has so far culminated with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. It first surveys the argumentation and negotiation strategies that led to agreement on key elements of the BHR regime despite a range conflicting interests across stakeholders from public, private and not-for-profit organisations. It then maps out pro-active regulatory strategies and public-private regulation for promoting responsible business conduct, offering insights for civil society, public regulators, business managers, academics and others. The book will assist engaged parties in structuring their arguments within negotiation processes with a view to enhancing their influence on change in business organisations in support of sustainability and new norms of conduct.
Extent: c 416 pp
Hardback Price: $160.00 Web: $144.00
Publication Date: December 2017
ISBN: 978 1 78643 164 6
Availability: Not yet published (pre-order)
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  • Law - Academic
  • Corporate Law and Governance
  • Human Rights
  • Public International Law
  • Regulation and Governance
Applying the emergent Business and Human Rights (BHR) regime as a case, this book analyses regulatory strategies, communicative approaches and public-private processes to develop new sustainability-related norms, particularly for business, for maintaining and promoting public policy objectives and societal needs.

Karin Buhmann sets out the concerns of public regulators and businesses that both inform debates and create power struggles in the construction of sustainability norms between public policy interests and the market. The author focuses on three trends in argumentative strategies applied in the BHR context and considers the use, impact and complementarity of these for sustainability regulation. Through analysis of selected transnational regulatory processes, the book identifies argumentative and negotiation strategies that led to agreement on BHR despite conflicting interests across public, private and not-for-profit (NGO) stakeholders, and develops insights for future multi-stakeholder sustainability regulation, focusing both on the regulatory process and the outcome.

Changing Sustainability Norms through Communication Processes will be a valuable read for NGOs, regulators, managers and academics with a concern for sustainability regulation by helping to enhance their understanding of how to influence normative change in organisations, in support of sustainability and responsible business conduct.
‘This book provides useful new narratives with which to explain the evolution of soft law within the interconnected fields of business and human rights and corporate sustainability. It helps situate these developments within the overall frames of international law and socio-legal studies, not merely for the academy and for theory’s sake, but also to guide the wide range of societal actors, including sustainability champions inside companies, seeking to use norms to help change the practices of corporations to be more responsible and sustainable.’
– Ursula Wynhoven, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (on staff loan from the UN Global Compact)
Contents: Part I Setting the Stage 1. Introduction 2. The Context: The CSR Discourse and its Relation to Human Rights 3. Argumentative Strategies, Discourse and System-Specific Rationality Part II Discursive Construction of Business Responsibilities for CSR 4. Two Steps Forward, One Back – More Than Once: Developing Normative Guidance for Business on Human Rights in a CSR Context 5. From Incremental Steps to Emerging Regime Part III Arguing for Change 6. Argumentative Strategies 7. Conclusion Index