17 U.C. Davis J. Int'l L. & Pol'y 41 (2010-2011)
Not Starting in Sixth Gear: An Assessment of the U.N. Global Compact's Use of Soft Law as a Global Governance Structure for Corporate Social Responsibility

handle is hein.journals/ucdl17 and id is 43 raw text is: 'NOT STARTING IN SIXTH GEAR':
AN ASSESSMENT OF THE U.N. GLOBAL COMPACT'S USE OF SOFT
LAW AS A GLOBAL GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE FOR CORPORATE
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
By Roya Ghafele* and Angus Mercer**
ABSTRACT
The practical difficulties with employing hard law at an international
level have resulted in softer codes of conduct stepping in to fill the void The
United Nations Global Compact is amongst the most ambitious of these
codes, created with a desire to engage businesses in corporate social
responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Soft law regulatory instruments, such as
voluntary standards and framework agreements, have been routinely
criticized for the vagueness and subjectivity of the commitments they elicit
from their participants. However, what appears to be lacking in the existing
literature is a critical analysis of such commitments. Through examining the
use of soft law by the Compact, we argue that although many question or
even dismiss its non-binding approach, it provides an illustrative example of
the benefits of soft law over harder forms of regulation. The use of soft law
as a global governance structure should not be dismissed as a 'Plan B' in
the event that harder law is not practical. Clear benefits exist in starting an
international regulatory mechanism at the softer end of the 'legalization
spectrum' before toughening up later on.
INTRODUCTION: THE RISE OF THE MULTINATIONAL CORPORATION ...... 42
I.  THE LEGALIZATION SPECTRUM: FROM SOFT LAW TO HARD LAW ........ 44
II. THE GLOBAL COMPACT AND ITS CRITICS ......................................... 46
* Roya Ghafele holds a lectureship with the University of Oxford's Department of
International Development, Queen Elizabeth House, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford OXI3TB.
Email: roya.ghafele@qeh.ox.ac.uk
** Angus Mercer works for an international law firm in London. He received his Master's
Degree in Global Governance and Diplomacy from the University of Oxford's Department of
International Development, Queen Elizabeth House, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford OXI3TB.
Email: angus.mercer@gmail.com
We would like to thank Kenneth Abbott and Duncan Snidal for their valuable comments on
this article.

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