Work on individual cases is important but not sufficient to counter harmful corporate strategies. Civil society activists and organisations, lawyers, and researchers around the world generally agree that the best counter-strategy is to change the law and norms regulating corporate behaviour – to close the governance gaps and legal loopholes that allow companies to cause harm and avoid responsibility for their actions and omissions.
Efforts to address larger governance gaps, rather than responding to individual corporate strategies, seek to change the distribution of liability and risk. This counter-strategy aims to prevent companies from using the strategies of constructing deniability and hiding behind complex supply chains, avoiding liability through judicial strategies and shielding parent companies from liability for harms, and utilising state power and corporate lobbying.
A key element of this counter-strategy is collaboration among civil society actors globally, sharing information on cases and lessons learned, and helping to put a spotlight on accountability gaps. By working together, civil society groups have achieved significant progress in pressuring states to recognise that companies have human rights responsibilities obligations. States are now translating some of those responsibilities into law, such as the concept of human rights and environmental due diligence (see making soft law into hard law). While these new laws are far from perfect, they represent a step towards holding companies legally accountable for their harmful activities. Elements of laws touching on other aspects of companies’ behaviour can also provide legal or administrative avenues to challenge harmful corporate strategies (see mainstreaming corporate accountability into law).