Submission Date

7-28-2016

Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access

Department

Environmental Studies

Second Department

Politics

Faculty Mentor

Rebecca Evans

Comments

Presented during the 18th Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 22, 2016 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

This research undertakes an exploration of the role of transnational corporations (TNCs), specifically extractive industries, with regard to their involvement in corporate social responsibility (CSR), as defined by various scholars in the field, and calls for the inclusion of environmental discourse in the discussion of CSR. It uses a case study of human rights violations by Rio Tinto, a global mining corporation. The research seeks to identify how various policy and voluntary measures to address corporate human rights violations played out in practice and applies interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks to assess the measures in place. Exploring the incentives and outcomes in the case studies, which hone in on extractive industries in countries and communities with different class and racial breakdowns, the research incorporates an environmental justice framework, and the Protect-Respect-Remedy work of John Ruggie. This leads to an examination of how the economic drive of TNCs affects their interaction with the communities in which they physically operate and the international sphere in which they legally operate. Additionally, it clearly establishes the connections that environmental issues play in the conversation of CSR and human rights as integrated, rather than separate, issues. The study concludes with addressing the main strengths and weaknesses of the current dialogue and action surrounding CSR, challenging its effectiveness at protecting the communities affected by corporate work and calling for the affected communities to have disproportionate access to remediation based on their class, race, and ability to amplify their voices. Finally, it acknowledges that moving forward, a heightened emphasis on CSR would ironically heighten corporate power over the global infrastructure of human rights.

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