This article examines two different approaches seeking to impose human rights obligations on corporations: Rights-based approaches and societal constitutionalism. Drawing from natural law arguments and from a fundamental basis of universal morality, rights-based approaches focus on the human rights of the rights holders applying against all those that could infringe upon them. On the contrary, societal constitutionalism understands human rights as social and legal counter-institutions to the expansionist tendencies of social systems and places the emphasis on the need to trigger the internal self-regulatory dynamics of corporations. Rights-based approaches favor the establishment of legally binding obligations on corporations through an international treaty, while societal constitutionalism sees in Corporate Social Responsibility codes emerging civil constitution. The article concludes with a nuanced normative argument, tailored according to whether the goal sought throughsocial rights protection approaches further the distributional imperative of sufficiency or equality.
Goettingen Journal of International Law
Erasmus School of Law

Kampourakis, I. (2019). CSR and Social Rights: Juxtaposing Societal Constitutionalism and Rights-Based Approaches Imposing Human Rights Obligations on Corporations. Goettingen Journal of International Law, 9(3), 537–569. Retrieved from