In This Review

Just Business: Multinational Corporations and Human Rights
Just Business: Multinational Corporations and Human Rights
By John Gerard Ruggie
W. W. Norton & Company, 2013, 304 pp.

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do” is not always good advice for multinational corporations operating outside their host countries. What might be common practice in one country might be considered unethical or even illegal in another. Indeed, even the laws of one’s home country might prohibit practices that have become common owing to weak or nonexistent law enforcement. In 2005, then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan asked Ruggie to survey expert opinion on the relationship between foreign corporations (and their suppliers) and violations of human rights in the countries in which they do business, including in places where conflict prevents authorities from governing. The result, as presented in this book, is a set of 31 guiding principles for governments and corporations centered on the slogan “Protect, respect, and remedy.” The book discusses the personal and substantive challenges Ruggie faced in his work, which was endorsed unanimously in 2011 by the UN Human Rights Council. Senior management of all multinational firms should be aware of these principles.