Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Sara Seck


The long conversations about corporate responsibility predominantly take place in forums and conferences in the Global North. Yet, the majority of the human rights abuses and their impacts are felt by peasants, farmers, children, and women in local communities in the Global South who do not have a voice in the institutionalized governance systems that animate global affairs. This thesis answers the question of how norms and human rights institutions in Africa can influence the corporate responsibility to respect (CR2R) norm as embedded in pillar II of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Through the theory of social constructivism, this thesis examines how the CR2R norm is changing the dominant narrative that MNCs do not have human rights responsibilities in international law. In light of the CR2R norm’s status as a social and (growing) legal norm, this thesis asks how norms and human rights institutions in Africa can contribute to the interpretation and application of the CR2R norm. The central argument is that international law-making, especially in human rights, should be an inclusive process that promotes an exchange of norms and ideas between the Global North and South divide. The ultimate goal of this thesis is to generate conversations about the potential role that norms and human rights institutions in Africa can play in the development of the CR2R norm. As a start, this thesis puts Africans at the center of the CR2R norm development discussion in terms of the inclusion of their views to affect the prescriptive and policy implications of emergent human right norms and principles.