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Defending corporate social responsibility: Myanmar and the lesser evil

Fagan, A (2015) 'Defending corporate social responsibility: Myanmar and the lesser evil.' International Journal of Human Rights, 19 (6). 867 - 882. ISSN 1364-2987

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This article examines an enduring issue in human rights scholarship generally, through the perspective of my recent experiences of undertaking corporate social responsibility (CSR) training in Myanmar. The relationship between theory (in the form of conceptual reasoning and analysis) and practice (the legal and political application of human rights principles) is complex and, on occasion, contradictory and paradoxical. Conceptually a strong and critically coherent argument can be made against CSR as being fundamentally incompatible with the moral objectives of human rights. In many ways, I share the view that, conceptually, CSR and human rights are incompatible. The implication of this standpoint is to refrain from undertaking any forms of CSR promotion and training and thereby remain consistent with one’s intellectual principles. However, the human rights challenges in Myanmar caused me to suspend my intellectual objections to accepting an offer to provide CSR training there in 2012. Beginning with a conceptual analysis of the relationship between theory and practice within traditions of radical political philosophy, I proceed to evaluate my own apparent intellectual contradiction by reference to the notion of the lesser evil. By analysing a specific empirical instance I aim to outline a perspective upon human rights which seeks to reconcile apparent conflict between conceptual analysis and practical human rights action. In so doing, I aim to generate further discussion on the nature of the complex relationship between human rights theory as embodying a predominantly critical perspective upon existing economic realities and the unavoidably practical dimension of human rights as the ongoing attempt to transform those realities, which necessitates engaging with them.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Law, School of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2015 10:28
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2021 22:15

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