In 2005, the UN included the Responsibility to Protect concept (R2P) in the World Summit’s outcome. R2P holds that force may be used to prevent genocide, ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity. In practice, however, such intervention remains controversial. Advocates of R2P argue that the international community must not tolerate terrible crimes, while skeptics say that R2P is promoting a new militarism by promoting war for supposedly worthy reasons. Ramesh Thakur adheres to the first line of thought, Mary Ellen O’Connell to the second. [ By Ramesh Thakur and Mary Ellen O’Connell ]
Ramesh Thakur: International humanitarian law is about protecting people. The UN was designed to create and enforce international law – and it did so with some success. World War III did not happen. Nonetheless, there were many armed conflicts after World War II. Their number increased until the early 1990s, and has somewhat declined since.
International law abolishes inter-state wars except in self-defence against armed attack. But today, wars tend to rage within the borders of countries. Some governments abuse sovereignty as a licence to kill. In other cases, statehood is too weak to protect people from the violence of non-governmental militias.
In today’s internal armed conflicts, up to 90 % of casualties are civilian. Masses suffer from displacement and disease. The collapse – or abuse – of statehood means murder and genocide at the hand of irregular forces and government troops. Therefore, the UN’s primary mandate of maintaining international security translates in practice into the goal of protecting civilians. Otherwise we will continue to witness civilian killings on a huge scale.
According to the conventional idea of sovereignty, however, international law only sees states as holders of rights and duties, regardless of how they treat their people. It must be recognised that individual persons have rights. There are global norms against atrocity crimes that empower the international community to act in the defence of civilians at risk of grave harm.
The philosophy of human rights is of European origin, but it is not an expression of Western triumphalism – though many people in developing countries tend to think so. In truth, human-rights language is an expression of guilt. It responds to the dark side of the human condition, and that violent side is quite evident in European history. Humanity needs universal values, and human rights are such values. The UN is the multilateral body that defines when the use of military force is legal. That is the case when a state acts in self-defence or if there is a mandate from the Security Council. R2P means that in addition, the UN can and must sanction the use of military force to protect people.
Globalisation offers many opportunities in terms of higher productivity, growth and fighting poverty. However, it also has destructive aspects, making weapons and dangerous drugs more easily available. It is becoming increasingly difficult for some states to maintain and enforce a monopoly of coercive power. In many respects, sovereignty as it was known since the Westphalian Peace is eroding.
Nation states are interdependent. Sovereignty cannot be absolute – and in practice never was. It is important to understand that sovereignty is instrumental. Essentially, it is about human security. Therefore, the abuse of sovereignty at the expense of human security must not be tolerated. Domestic practice must conform to international standards.
Protection of people and the prosecution of criminals are related matters. Until the 1990s, tyrants could feel safe. They knew they would not be held accountable. That has changed. Courts of all countries can pass judgements in cases of crimes against humanity, and rightly so. The UN Charter was not designed to grant impunity to state criminals. The idea was always to protect people and their rights.
After World War II, the tribunals at Nuremberg and Tokyo dispensed victor’s justice, no doubt. But those were serious courts of law, not lynch mobs, and they enriched international criminal law. Today, there is the International Criminal Court in The Hague (ICC). While R2P protects victims of atrocities, the ICC can punish the perpetrators.
Mary Ellen O’Connell: What we need more than R2P in the sense just mentioned is R2P understood as Responsibility to Peace. Peace is the greatest human right, upon which all others depend, and it is being challenged by a new militarism.
Ideas matter, and the idea of implementing peace is quite young. That non-violence should rule in international affairs is something philosophers always envisioned. But only 200 years ago did political leaders began to think in those terms. In 1907 they decided that it was illegal to wage war with the intention of collecting debts. Before, the right to wage war had been mostly considered an untouchable sovereign prerogative.
The disaster of World War II shocked governments into forming the UN. The use of force in international relations was declared illegal with the two exceptions of self-defence and when authorised by the Security Council.
In the USA, it has become common to consider the UN an anachronistic failure. That notion is wrong. The UN did establish a successful norm against conquest. And the first Bush Administration appreciated that when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1991. The international community unanimously rejected his use of force, and Kuwait was liberated by a worldwide coalition.
At the time, it was hoped that the UN might develop into a more comprehensive and successful peace order. Instead, the idea of using force for various purposes grew. Discussing humanitarian intervention was the first step. Eventually, Serbia was unlawfully bombed because of Kosovo. NATO thus set a precedent for unlawful use of force I the Iraq War starting 2003.
Michael Ignatieff, a prominent human-rights scholar, has argued in favour of the Iraq War as a humanitarian war, like Kosovo. However, he fails to consider the many and devastating sorts of collateral damage of war. Ignatieff theorises in the abstract about the lesser of two evils. In real life Iraq, however, military intervention has done more harm than good. It is impossible to justify that war on humanitarian grounds.
The idea of surgical strikes sounds good in theory. But in reality, military force is very blunt, useful for very little other than responding to military force. In Liberia’s and Sierra Leone’s civil wars, things became worse after other West African countries intervened.
The usefulness of the military is often over-estimated. In Rwanda in 1994, peacekeepers were present. They proved inadequate to prevent genocide. Rather, their presence may have compounded the tragedy, by providing a false sense of security. The same must be said of the peacekeepers at Srebrenica.
This is not to say that conventional peacekeeping makes no sense. To the contrary, it can do a lot of good – and is doing so in Burundi, Cyprus and other places right now. But if disaster is to be prevented by force, having adequate resources will always be crucial. Inadequate troops with an inadequate mandate will not help. It is very unlikely that governments will ever supply the massive resources needed to succeed.
The Iraq war has cost billions, perhaps even a trillion dollars. And yet we are far from any peaceful, stable order. I don’t think there will ever be the kind of well-funded, robust intervention that might actually do humanitarian good. But in the meantime, Ethiopia has intervened in Somalia with US support. There is talk of attacking Iran. We are dealing with a new militarism, and the R2P discourse has contributed to it, by promoting the idea of war for a good cause, which, ultimately, means that other good causes justify war as well.
Ramesh Thakur: I’ll endorse most of what you just said. I always opposed the intervention in Kosovo, though it was sanctioned by the UN in retrospect, and that intervention did prepare for Iraq. And yes, there is a paradox of trying to use violent force in order to prevent violent force. Obviously, such matters must be handled with great care.
It is also obvious that large powers are not afraid to intervene, while poor countries fear invasions. To ease such concerns, the Security Council must become better balanced and more transparent. The General Assembly must be empowered to hold the Security Council responsible, and the Security Council must become legally subordinate to the ICJ. Unless that happens, the credibility of intervention, even for humanitarian protection, will be at risk. It is striking that the permanent member most regularly using its right of veto in the Security Council is neither Russia nor China, but the USA. And when UNESCO wanted to officially enshrine peace as a human right, the USA opposed that step, because it would become more difficult to wage war.
Nonetheless, I must emphasise that the UN is not a pacifist organisation. To anyone who is not a pacifist, the question is one of when – not whether – the use of force is permitted or required. In Rwanda in 1994, for instance, a robust mandate would have helped, which is why I am in favour of R2P.
Of course, prevention of disasters is more important than intervening in a disaster. Yes, we need long-term peaceful development and structural progress that makes societies more prosperous and more stable. But emphasising all that does not mean that we will ever live in a world free of intervention. Ruling out military action per se means setting the bar far too high.
Interventions have always happened. The main idea of R2P is to define multilateral rules for such events, acknowledging that they will occur, in order to limit their frequency and enhance their legitimacy and effectiveness.
Mary Ellen O’Connell: I am not a pure pacifist, because I accept the use of force in self-defence. The problem is that R2P has contributed to the illegitimate use of force. And let’s not be naïve: we are more likely to see Western troops intervene in Iran than in Sudan’s crisis region of Darfur. And if we won’t witness an invasion in Iran, the reason will be the disaster in Iraq, not multilateral norms. What we need is a Responsibility to Peace and to do no harm, not the misguided idea of doing good by violent means. This norm is all the more necessary, as reform of the Security Council will not happen any time soon.
Ramesh Thakur: R2P rhetoric can indeed be abused by powerful governments. But that is true of every principle, and does not mean that R2P itself is wrong. . Any US attack on Iran will have absolutely nothing to do with R2P. The real problem is that the multilateral system depends on the cooperation and consent of the most powerful nations. How are we going to arrange a just and stable global order if the most powerful players declare themselves to be above the law? In the UN system, if it is not the USA against the rest it is the West against the rest.
This exchange between Ramesh Thakur and Mary Ellen O’Connell took place at a conference hosted by the Development and Peace Foundation and the Bonn International Centre for Conversion in Bonn late last year. Both contributors approved this documentation.
Different organizations have created different grounds for defining Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). However, they do share one common ground on the basis of which CSR can be described as a voluntary activity that a corporation does for its employees and society as a whole as well as the environment around it for its operations and functions. It is what the corporation gives back to the community after using its resources to make profits.
Corporate Social Responsibility: Its Advantages and Disadvantages
According to Horrigan (2010), there is no definite answer to what CSR is owing to the high level of ambiguity and controversy related to the topic. However, Baker (2004), proposes CSR as, ‘It is how the organizations manage the business process to produce an overall positive impact on the society.’
Emergence of CSR
|1930s||‘CSR’ as a term came into existence in the 1930s supposedly because Prof. A.A. Berle and Prof. C.G. Means at Harvard University, USA, wanted corporations to take responsibility after the Great Depression of 1929. According to them, this event had occurred because of the irresponsibility shown by the corporations|
|1960s & 70s||Examples of CSR started being put across in the business world. Owing to the civil rights movement, consumerism and environmentalism transformed the perspective of the society regarding the business world’s behavior. In the year of 1960, Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) convention was developed to advocate the policies that aimed at achieving sustainable economic growth and employment and elevate the living standards in the member-nations while maintaining financial stability at the same time.|
|1980s & 90s||In 1980, International Union for Conversation of Nature (IUCN) published a World Conservation Strategy. This strategy was aimed to create more stable world economy, stimulate world growth, perish world equalities and work on the worst impacts of poverty.In the year of 1992, the UN Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro, where ‘triple bottom line’ business model was floated along with an idea of using sustainable development to a company’s competitive advantage.|
Thereafter, many significant incidents took place that further strengthened the roots of CSR and forced the business developments to see the need for CSR.
Types of CSR
There are four types of CSR according to its beneficiaries:
Environment-Focused Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
This type of CSR focuses on reducing detrimental effects of the corporation’s operations on the environment. The corporation innovates in its manufacturing stage to reduce the production of environment harming by-products. It also promotes the use of non-renewable energy sources to prevent harm caused to the environment by burning of fossil fuels.
Community-Based Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
The corporation joins hands with other organizations (usually Non-Profit ones) to ensure the welfare of a local community’s people. These organizations either fund or receive funding from corporations to perform tasks that can improve the living conditions of the community’s people.
Human Resource (HR)-Based Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Corporations focus on the well-being of their own staff and improve their living conditions. The companies may extend compassionate leaves like paternity leaves so that the employee can look after his newborn. They can also provide medical insurance to their employees to take care of accidents caused due to occupational hazards.
Charity Based Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
In a charity-based CSR, corporations donate to organizations or individuals (usually through a charity partner) to improve their financial condition and for their general upliftment. This is the most common form of a CSR activity. Most corporations provide direct financial support to organizations or individuals who require such assistance.
Advantages Corporate Social Responsibility
Now that we know what CSR means and what its forms are, we will read about CSR’s advantages.
Improvement in the image of the Corporation
The most obvious advantage that a corporation can obtain by implementing CSR policies is that of an increased goodwill value. This serves a dual purpose – Firstly, people will want to buy the product that the corporation is selling because of its good and clean image. Secondly, other enterprises will want to do business and be associated with the corporation. This increases the corporation’s prestige to such a high level that its name may become synonymous with reliability and goodness.
People always want to be associated with the best and the most popular, so in that respect, the corporation rises in stature and becomes an important player in its market.
Increased Attraction and Retention of Employees
Companies having solid CSR commitments find it easier to recruit and retain employees. People want to work for companies that care about the well-being of their employees and provide good working conditions. Compassionate attitude towards employees is highly desired by both new recruits and old employees alike. Appraisals, financial assistance in times of need, and attention given to personal achievements and special days (like birthdays) make employees want to remain with the company.
This is a huge advantage when there is a tight labor market situation. This will reduce the cost of training new recruits and free up incentives for existing employees. Incentives induce efficient work out from employees. In short, if the company’s workforce is happy, the company gets more profits due to increased efficiency in production.
Regulatory Authorities become less hostile
A corporation with strong CSR programs will not be scrutinized by regulatory authorities as much as companies without CSR programs. The authorities will be lenient in their regulation because they feel that the company must be complying with all regulations as it is supported by firms and people alike for its welfare work. A company with strong CSR programs will always work within regulations to get benefits (other than profits) from these CSR programs.
The authorities will give fast-track preference to this company. It may also forego cumbersome paperwork that is required to set up projects if it thinks that this project is going to help the community to improve.
Attracts more Capital Inflow from Various Sources
A company’s image plays a huge role in attracting investors. If the company is engaged in CSR programs, its image gets a massive boost, and so, people invest in its operations heavily. This company will attract capital even from abroad in the form of FII, thus, helping the country to get valuable foreign exchange. It will also attract investment from other firms and industries, and it will become a name that can be trusted easily.
Even the Government of the country may be willing to invest in the company, leading to lesser regulation and red-tapism.
Generation of Clean and Renewable Energy from Environmental CSR
If the company has invested in an environmental CSR program, it will make sure that its operations do not harm the environment in any way. Inventing machines and techniques to reduce the harmful effects of its operational activities will give the community a clean environment. It will also give the company a chance to explore the usage of renewable energy for its operations.
This will reduce the cost of acquiring fossil fuels and can reduce the cost of production by a one-time investment in renewable energy production.
A popular business principle is that any publicity is good publicity. You should be known to the people to sell your product. A good CSR program will always give good publicity and even act as an advertisement for the company.
It also sets the company apart from its competitors. They may be selling a similar product at lower rates, but you are keeping the interests of your environment and community intact, and so the people do not mind a little extra charge for this thoughtfulness.
Disadvantages Corporate Social Responsibility
Now we will see why CSR is criticized in business circles.
Shift from the Profit-Making Objective
Milton Friedman, an economist, is the biggest critic of CSR. He says that CSR shifts the focus of the company from the objective that made it a financial entity in the first place – profit-making. The company forgets about its obligations towards its shareholders that they have to make profits for them. Instead of focusing on making profits, they engage in CSR programs and use up funds for community welfare.
So basically, instead of an income, the company is effecting an outflow of cash and not fulfilling its profit-making obligations.
Company Reputation takes a hit
According to CSR policies, companies have to disclose shortcomings of even their own products if they are found to violate the CSR program. For example, car manufacturing companies calling back their vehicles in large numbers when they find glitches in the model after having sold them wallops their reputation.
This creates inconvenience to the customers, and they lose trust in the manufacturer.
Initially, customers like to see the companies that they trust are engaged in social welfare programs. They like the fact that these programs are for a good cause. Later, they grow wary of it. If they don’t see instant results from these programs, they think that these are nothing but PR stunts. So it becomes difficult to convince customers that the results will take some time in coming and that they should continue believing in the good intentions of the company.
These attempts of convincing become fruitless day by day because some customers are impatient and have a constant desire to be appeased.
Increase in Cost of Production
More often than not, CSR programs increase the expenditure of the company. This increased expenditure is reflected in the increased prices of the product for which, ultimately, the customers have to pay.
Large corporations can absorb this increased expenditure. They may not increase their products’ prices, but small businesses have no other option but to increase their products’ prices to meet their increased expenses.
Legislation and Provisions Related to CSR
Legislation and provisions imposed on organization regarding CSR vary from one place to another. The value of CSR differs in various contexts, depending on the geographical location, environmental conditions, culture and most importantly legal framework imposed by the different countries. Here we discuss the influencing legal factors that affect an organization in three different geographical locations: Australia, UK and USA.
OECD Guidelines For Corporate Social Responsibility
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is a forum where 30 countries work in tandem to resolve social, economic and environment challenges the democracies counter. It has come up with guidelines for multinational companies on ethical and responsible business operation. The guidelines are in effect dealing with corporate social responsibility issues. As Australia, UK and USA are members of OECD, the organizations who intend to establish themselves, undertake business activities, import or exports from these three countries have to maintain OECD guidelines.
While supporting the general policies of OECD, an enterprise should take fully into consideration established general policies in the nations that operate, and consider the opinions of various other stakeholders like employees, suppliers, investors, etc. To maintain the general policies, the organizations should —
- Play its part to contribute to environment, social and economic progress intending to achieving sustainable development
- Respect human rights and national human rights affected by different countries
- Encourage local growth by maintaining a close relation with the local communities including business interest. The organization should expand organizational activities in the domestic and foreign market to attain more exposure
- Support good corporate governance policies; develop, apply and practice good governance principles
- Avoid seeking exemptions from the statutory or regulatory framework imposed by the federal government concerning human rights, health, environmental, safety, labor, financial incentives, taxation and other issues
- Develop and enforce effective management systems and self-regulatory practices and attempt to establish a relationship and mutual trust between the organization and the society they operate