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Corporate Remediation of Human Rights Violations: A Restorative Justice Framework

Abstract

In the absence of effective judicial remediation mechanisms after business-related human rights violations, companies themselves are expected to establish remediation procedures for affected victims and communities. This is a challenge for both companies and victims since comprehensive company-based grievance mechanisms (CGM) are currently missing. In this paper, we explore how companies can provide effective remediation after human rights violations. Accordingly, we critically assess two different approaches to conflict resolution, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and restorative justice (RJ), for their potential to provide dialogue-based, non-judicial remediation. We argue that remedy through agreement-driven ADR mechanisms risks marginalizing the interests and concerns of victims and affected community members, particularly in weak institutional contexts. Hence, we develop a dialogue-driven framework for corporate remediation of human rights violations grounded on RJ principles. This restorative framework provides a comprehensive CGM that focuses on the harms and needs of victims and aims at restoring justice through restorative dialogue. Based on a prompt discovery and a thorough investigation of the grievance, companies should design and prepare the remediation process together with victims, offenders and affected community members. Through restorative dialogue with the affected parties about the circumstances and impacts of the wrongdoing, companies can repair the harm, regain legitimacy amongst stakeholders as well as transform their business practices to avoid future human rights violations.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the associate editor as well as two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions. In addition, we thank the participants of the Society for Business Ethics Annual Conference in Chicago where an earlier version of this paper was presented in 2018.

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Correspondence to Maximilian J. L. Schormair.

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Schormair, M.J.L., Gerlach, L.M. Corporate Remediation of Human Rights Violations: A Restorative Justice Framework. J Bus Ethics 167, 475–493 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-019-04147-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-019-04147-2

Keywords

  • Business and human rights
  • Remedy
  • Restorative justice
  • Company-based grievance mechanism
  • Stakeholder engagement