At the #BSR13 conference I debated "Collaborative Initiatives: Accelerators or Diversions?" with Arvind Ganesan, who directs the Business & Human Rights Program at Human Rights Watch.


  1. Arvind pointed to the Kimberley Process as an example, explaining that the initiative was created to engage governments to stop the trade in blood diamonds; but in the years since it's become clear that some governments are in fact the problem, and the initiative is ill-equipped to hold them to account.

  2. I believe there is value in initiatives with low barriers to entry like the U.N. Global Compact, whose only specific demand of company signatories is that they submit an annual “Communication on Progress” on how they are implementing the compact’s ten principles. The compact has attracted criticism and generated debate for counting among its membership companies that have been involved in harm. 

    But as John Ruggie recounted in his book Just Business, Kofi Annan was asked at the launch of the compact whether sharing the stage with Phil Knight of Nike wasn’t akin to supping with the devil. Annan replied, “The angels don’t need our help.”

  3. Indeed. Although without a set of standards, a governance structure, and enforcement mechanisms, is it really a collaborative initiative? Or is it just collaboration? 

    Here's BSR's summary of the session.