Business, Security and Human Rights: Governance Insights from Canadian Transnational Mining Firms in Ghana and South Africa
Over the last two decades, we have seen the proliferation of nonstate actors such as transnational corporations (TNCs) on the global stage. Despite evidence pointing to the socio-economic contributions of TNCs, there have also been numerous reports of business complicity in human rights abuses. As a result, transnational voluntary governance initiatives (TVGIs) such as the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs) and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) have emerged to promote corporate social responsibility (CSR). The existence of inalienable human rights has been accepted by the 193 member countries of the United Nations; however, despite claims of respecting the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, cases of human rights abuses by TNCs continue to come to light, especially in the extractive sectors of the Global South. This begs the following question: To what extent can state-business participation in regulatory governance norms promote responsible business conduct (RBC) and sustainable development practices in mineral resource sectors? This dissertation seeks to answer the above question by analyzing the following puzzles: 1) Why and how do TNCs successfully interact with some host states to adopt TVGIs on business, security and human rights (BSHrs), but not with others? and 2) What are the drivers of BSHrs commitments and/or reporting among TNCs? Utilizing insights from field research, new institutionalisms, ‘global assemblages’, and a Transnational Business Governance Interactions (TBGI) framework, I argue that although home-country (Canada) commitments to TVGIs on BSHrs norms are essential for promoting responsible corporate behaviours, what largely drives and differentiates Canadian transnational mining firms’ commitments to BSHrs norms in mineral-rich host states (Ghana and South Africa) tend to be a combination of the host states’ institutional contexts (e.g., state-business strategic postures), the dynamics of legitimacy (the ‘social license to operate’) and transnational mineral governance assemblage (TMGA) for corporate human rights due diligence. Overall, my dissertation contributes to ‘eclectic scholarship’, improves the traditional scholarly discourse on CSR and human rights obligations, broadens the policy dialogue on sustainable development, and helps us understand how norm dynamics influence international ‘soft’ law, transnational mining investments and natural resource governance.