Redefining Corporate Responsibility

Aerial view of the oil sands.

Can business enterprises be held accountable for their impact on human rights or how actively they support efforts to address climate change? These are the kinds of questions explored by Prof. Barnali Choudhury, Director of the Nathanson Centre and a globally recognized expert on corporate responsibility.

Prof. Barnali Choudhury is currently developing an in-depth commentary on the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGPs) on Business and Human Rights. Engaging a diverse group of international experts, the commentary will elucidate each of the UNGPs, as well as the Principles for Responsible Contracts developed by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Scheduled for publication in 2023, the study combines analysis of these principles with examples of their real-world applications. 

Prof. Choudhury is also the co-author of Corporate Duties to the Public (Cambridge University Press, 2019), which argues that corporations have obligations not only to their shareholders, but to the broader public affected by their activities. The book explores the purpose of corporations and how business organizations should deal with issues of criminal liability, corruption, tax compliance and human rights. It also provides a detailed examination of corporate duties — how they work, whether they are justified and how they should be reconsidered in the future. 

Another key area of inquiry for Prof. Choudhury is how corporations can be induced into furthering efforts to address climate change. In her analysis, climate change is a systemic risk that could cause problems akin to those experienced globally after 2008–2009 financial crisis. Rather than wait for governments to tackle the climate crisis, she argues, companies and financial institutions can take direct action by repurposing existing corporate and commercial tools.