Business and human rights: alternative approaches to transnational regulation

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In recent years, various approaches to transnational regulation of business conduct have evolved as an alternative to the command-and-control model focusing on conduct of domestic businesses and the soft law approach of international human rights law to regulate corporations. On reviewing the potential of five such approaches (i.e., polycentric governance, extraterritorial regulation, proposed international treaty, reform of corporate laws, and rebalancing of trade-investment agreements), this article makes two arguments. First, although polycentric governance is critical to fill regulatory deficits of state-based regulation, this approach should not ignore or weaken further the role and relevance of states in regulating businesses, given the dynamic relation between state-based and other regulatory approaches. Second, greater attention should be paid to nonhuman rights regulatory regimes to change the corporate culture, which tends to externalize human rights issues. The increasing focus on the role of corporate laws and trade-investment agreements should be seen in this context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-158
Number of pages20
JournalAnnual Review of Law and Social Science
Early online date6 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • business and human rights
  • extraterritorial regulation
  • international treaty
  • mandatory human rights due diligence
  • polycentric governance
  • purpose of corporations


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