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Fixing Globalization-Fueled Human Rights Violations

A new United Nations report written by Harvard Kennedy School's John Ruggie signals a growing incidence of business-related human rights violations fueled by globalization.

The changes wrought by a globalized economy, he writes, are creating "governance gaps" -- areas of business, government, and society where established human rights protections don't penetrate.


These governance gaps provide the permissive environment for wrongful acts by companies of all kinds without adequate sanctioning or reparation. How to narrow and ultimately bridge the gaps in relation to human rights is our fundamental challenge.

Violations most occur where governance structures are weakest: in low-income countries; in countries that often had just emerged from or still were in conflict; and in countries where the rule of law was weak and levels of corruption high.

The solution, the report concludes, is a three-prong approach involving actions by governments, business, and society at large. It calls on companies to conduct due dilligence of their actions to "become aware of, prevent and address adverse human rights impacts," and to create effective grievance procedures.