On January 26 this year, the
Department of International Law (Secretariat for Legal Affairs) of the OAS, in its capacity as Technical Secretariat of the Inter-American Juridical Committee (CJI), presented to the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs (CAJP) of the Permanent Council of the OAS the
CJI Guidelines Concerning Corporate Social Responsibility in the Area of Human Rights and Environment in the Americas.
The CJI had decided to include that topic on its agenda at its regular session in March 2013 and the following year it adopted a resolution approving a report and guidelines, which were submitted to the Permanent Council in April 2014. In 2016, the OAS General Assembly requested the CAJP to give the report consideration and to report to the CJI on the outcomes of those deliberations.
During this presentation, the Director of the DIL explained that the positive performance of the region’s economies in recent years had created the need to have in place regulations governing business and investments and how these interact with the environment and society. Corporate social responsibility entails a new way of doing business in which firms should strive for balance between the need to achieve their economic and financial goals and the need for their activities to generate a positive social and environmental impact. Although a number of states in the region have been adopting rules in that regard, there is still much to be done in terms of reinforcing authorities’ oversight capacity, strengthening stimulus strategies, and disseminating positive practices so that all enterprises—irrespective of their size, structure, economic sector, or characteristics—are prepared for such challenges and realize that they, too, stand to benefit by acting responsibly.
The Guidelines document affirms the need to adopt preventive and protective policies in four specific areas: human rights, environment, workers’ rights, and the rights of communities where companies operate. It also incorporates measures targeting specific population segments, such as consumers, for example. In addition to other aspects, it describes the characteristics of possible internal and external supervision mechanisms, both for enterprises and for the State, and recommends the introduction of incentives or means of recognition that might usefully complement such mechanisms.
The CJI offers the Guidelines to the OAS Member States as an advisory guide for consolidating progress already made in the region in the subject and for overcoming obstacles and shortcomings that still exist. As stated in one of the guidelines, “[c]orporate
social responsibility should be part of a
culture shared and embraced by all.”
See resolution CJI/RES.205 (LXXXIV/14), “Corporate Social Responsibility in the Area of Human Rights and the Environment in the Americas” of March 13, 2014; also, the
CJI report “Corporate Social Responsibility in the Area of Human Rights and the Environment in the Americas” (document CJI/doc.449/14 rev.1 corr. 1) and the “Guidelines Concerning Corporate Social Responsibility in the Area of Human Rights and Environment in the Americas” attached thereto.
For further information on this matter, please contact the Department of International Law of the OAS – Technical Secretariat of the Inter-American Juridical Committee +1 202 370-0741.
For further information about the Committee, please visit