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83 J.L. Pol'y & Globalization 1 (2019)

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Journal of Law, Policy and Globalization                                                       www.ilsteorg
ISSN 2224-3240 (Paper) ISSN 2224-3259 (Online)  DOI: 10.7176/JLPG
Vol.83, 2019                                                                                         HITE

             A  Legal Review of Corporate Social Responsibility

                                              Perry Ackon*
                   PhD  Candidate in International Law, School of Law, Xiamen University,
                        No. 422, Siming South Road, Xiamen, Fujian, China. 361005

The legal frontier has over the years proved its worth in shaping concepts and theories of humanity to the effect
of influencing the sanity of its practice and its longevity. Corporate Social Responsibility is a theory that has
existed over decades. It has however undergone various transformations as it has being duly influenced by facets
of academia  and developments  all with the aim of maximizing  its impact in the cause of achieving global
development  and sustainability. This academic piece in perspective, analyses the concept in legal terms and the
light of its relevance today. Providing a legal definition and review of the concept in modem terms, the piece
concludes with the need for more legislation to this regard.
Keywords:  Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainable Development, Law, Regulation.
DOI:  10.7176/JLPG/83-01
Publication date:March  31st 2019

1. Introduction
This paper presents a vivid legal perspective of Corporate Social Responsibility which is henceforth referred to
as CSR. It further presents a briefing and summary of some key elements of the concept of CSR so as to build a
foundation for the achievement of the set goal of the academic piece which is to shed light on the concept of
CSR   and its practices today in legal terms. It is expedient to note that CSR, which is also referred to as
responsible business, corporate governance  and  corporate citizenship, has no single universally accepted
definition. The concept has been described and defined by concerned organizations and institutions alike both in
the academic  and  non-academic  arena. CSR   has also mainly  been highlighted by  individuals who  have
researched and  studied the progressive trend of this phenomenon.   With no  grounds  of profit mentioned
throughout the definitions of CSR, the concept has over the years hinged on the respect for ethical and economic
values and in some cases compliance to legal requirements. The definitions and perspectives which span from
the mid  90's till date all give different viewpoints to CSR. As mentioned above  our prime standpoint of
undressing CSR  in this paper will be from a thoroughly legal perspective.

2. Notable  definitions of CSR
The  World Business Council  for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is   an organization which seeks to unite
businesses. The organization in its publication Making Good Business Sense by  Lord Holme   and Richard
Watts defined CSR  as, the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic
development  while improving  the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local
community  and society at large.' The European Commission, which is one of the strongest world unions, in its
launch of the communique  on CSR  for the 2011-2014 period on the 25th of October 2011 in Brussels, Belgium
gave another working  definition for CSR within the European context. The commission defined CSR  as the
responsibility of enterprises for their impacts on society. The commission further stated that to fully meet their
corporate social responsibility, enterprises should have in place a process to integrate social, environmental,
ethical and human  rights concerns into their business operations and core strategy in close collaboration with
their stakeholders.2 The World Bank has also defined the concept of CSR as The commitment of business to
contribute to sustainable economic development, working with employees, their families, the local community,
and  society at large to improve their quality of life, in ways that are both good for business and good for
development.3 This definition pivots on three major factors, to improve economic factors, environmental factors
and also social life. This has been seen by many scholars as one of the most satisfying definitions for CSR.
     In a broader search for definitions from other perspectives, some governments of states have been found
elaborating on the concept  and highlighting their thoughts on it. One major  definition of CSR  of some
governments  is that of the Chinese government. They have been recorded stating in relation to CSR that While
pursuing economic  profits, corporations are held responsible by shareholders, employees, consumers, suppliers,

'WBCSD  definition for CSRby Lord Holme and Richard Watts.
2 CSR Europe new definition for CSR.
3 Jorgensen, H.B., Pruzan-Jorgensen, PM, Jungk, M and Cramer, A (2003) Strengthening Implementation Corporate Social Responsibility in
Global Supply Chains, World Bank CSR Practice.


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