Winning Proposal to the Pierce Scholar's Fund: 2012 Competition

Project Title: When and Why Do Human Rights NGOs Target Companies (Rather than Governments)?

Faculty Sponsor: Jana von Stein

Graduate Student: Laura Seago

Project Description

Historically, human rights nongovernmental organizations (HRNGOs) like Amnesty International have focused on states, ‘naming and shaming’ governments that torture, incarcerate dissenters, and commit a range of other abuses. In the past decade, these groups have added a new target to their agenda: multinational firms. By ‘naming and shaming’ companies publicly for labor rights abuses, HRNGOs hope to use the threat of consumer-led boycott to induce change. We know very little about this new and growing area of human rights campaigning. Which companies do HRNGOs target? Which rights violations do they identify? Are HRNGOs trying to circumvent the state, or are campaigns concurrent? By building an original dataset of HRNGO efforts to name and shame firms, we will be able to answer these and other questions. This will help move the literature on the causes and consequences of private global activism forward.