The ‘business and human rights’ (BHR) field emerged amidst concerns over the adequacy of national legal systems and institutions in addressing human rights impacts of global market integration. BHR relies on governance networks and advocacy that transcend a ‘national’ paradigm. Yet BHR norms and initiatives remain anchored in national governmental entities and processes. BHR thus prompts reflection on the coherence and relevance of ‘domestic institutionalisation’ of human rights. First, this article briefly explores how BHR disrupts the paradigmatic view of domestic human rights institutions, given its transnational character and because BHR addresses market as well as state actors. Secondly, we show how BHR re-draws the perimeter of the national human rights system: by triggering business-focused activities by existing national human rights actors; by drawing new government entities and market actors into domestic human rights implementation; and via national components of associational or hybrid governance mechanisms. Next, we argue BHR’s extension of the ontology of human rights institutionalisation suggests the relevance of multi-level governance theory in analysing the BHR field. In concluding we observe that BHR further highlights the need to contextualise the concepts of human rights institutionalisation and national human rights institution within global market society.
- human rights