New market forms embedded in certain liberal democratic norms, such as participation, transparency, accountability and human rights, are being promoted by a new generation of corporate conduct standards. These address a specific set of business practices and lock corporations into multi-stakeholder processes that contributes to socialize them, transforming their management systems and, at times, even their culture. This paper suggests that companies who follow these standards subsequently act as democratizing agents and global 'co-governors' because, among others, they begin to proactively hold governments, security forces and other stakeholders accountable. While certain market forces have undermined social justice and democracies, new market forms might be helping to disseminate norms that are key elements of democracy. The cases used to illustrate how companies become 'democratizing agents' of sorts are the implementation of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (the VPs) in Colombia and Indonesia. The VPs are a multi-stakeholder initiative launched in 2000 involving major oil, gas and mining multinationals, governments and NGOs to guide the relationship between extractives and the public and private security providers that protect them from attacks, theft and extortion in weak governance and conflict zones. The analysis draws from extensive practical experience on the ground, and liberal and constructivist approaches on norms diffusion in International Relations and Political Science.
- business and human rights
- corporate accountability
- corporate social responsibility
- norms diffusion
- public private partnerships
- voluntary principles on security and human rights