Session 9

Human rights policies of metal and mining companies: do they respond to public pressure?
Julia Göhringer
University of Konstanz, Germany

Together with the oil and gas sector, the mining industry is accused of committing two thirds of all human rights abuses by the 2006 interim report of the UN Commission for Human Rights. The metal industry had human rights controversies as well. Consequently, these industries have faced public claims over the past years to become more socially responsible. Are companies of the metal and mining industries responsive to public pressure? I find that previous research on corporate social responsibility lacks a systematic and empirical analysis of the determinants of corporate commitment to human rights. Building on institutional and stakeholder-agency theory, I argue that these companies are encouraged to express their commitment to human rights by national standards set by the state, guidelines initiated by national and international organizations as well as controversies on human rights issues published in the media. Applying multilevel modeling, the major results confirm the effectiveness of “soft law”. Moreover, my minor findings suggest that there are opportunities for an “indirect” regulation of corporate commitment to human rights by addressing other corporate factors.