The discussion of efficiency, self-interest, human and environmental rights has always been a controversy, due to different versions of explanations given by the interested parties. Thus, Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and Aristotle took their time to explain their version of the argument as it will be discussed in this paper. The paper will also bring together the recommendations of John Ruggie to the United Nations of guidelines for protecting human rights. Finally, the paper seeks to explain the rationale for better protecting human rights and the environment against exploitation by business entities.
Adam Smith makes a bold attempt to account for the relationship between self-interest and market efficiency in a free market situation. His argument is that the much needed by an individual is what determines how he/she will reach in the market, thus influencing other market factors which result in efficiency status (Bonefeld, 2013). Marx, on the other hand, insists that capitalism focuses much on the quantity delivered but does very little to motivate or rewards those in charge of production. Workers are pushed to their extreme limits to work and deliver the best they can for the same of maximizing profits for the owners of the means of production. These results to alienation and discrimination which makes them remain poor as their masters who are the capitalists continue to get richer by the day.
Aristotle comes with a different explanation about the market efficiency where he explains that personal virtue is the driver to the limits of market exploitation. These two different dimensions are important since they make it possible for scholars to understand why workers are always complaining about receiving the lowest portion of the production output (Bonefeld, 2013). This is in consideration that their efforts are the key to the benefits enjoyed by the capitalists. Understanding of the two arguments also places people under a consideration of what good life means to everyone and what limits one can get to claim that they have a good life out of their production efforts.
Finally, the difference between the individual and the systemic setup in the production discussion makes it possible to understand what motivates people to work and when they feel that they need to allow others enjoy the fruits of their efforts. For instance, capitalists are known to be takers of every unit produced without considering the efforts of those directly involved in the process (Bonefeld, 2013). This is a systemic fault that needs to be understood and rectified through analysis of the individual drivers and the market set up. Ethically, individuals are supposed to be considerate bout one another, and this is what Aristotle was trying to explain using the theory of personal virtue.
John Ruggie made a proposal to the United Nations Council on a set of principles on human rights that he named the soft law approach, framework and guidelines. This was in a bid to ensure that the state is primarily responsible for protecting and enforcing the rights of humans through ensuring that businesses comply with the state rules and not exploit customers (Aaronson & Higham, 2013). These principles are internationally recognized and respected due to the immense contribution by Ruggie. Ruggie is committed to his soft law approach since he believes that the state has to power to implement any legal framework through consultation with any other parties when it comes to protecting the human rights. Ruggie does not believe in the laws that are binding to the ones who are directly addressed and works with recommendations, opinions, and regulations which are collected from the members of the public by the state and implemented as guidelines and declarations which are not legally binding.
Soft law approach advocates cooperation between the state and the people when it comes to protecting human rights where institutions are voluntarily managed by ethical and legal means without any rules being imposed on the activities. Soft laws according to Ruggie do not cause confrontation between the involved parties and are always effective since they are absorbed through willingness and cooperation (Aaronson & Higham, 2013). His framework and guidelines have been able to achieve several objectives in the protection of human rights as explained below: they have been able to challenge states in ensuring that human rights and freedoms and guaranteed and fulfilled.
The guidelines have helped the UN in ensuring that business entities are complying with the old and new rules and following the human rights procedures in the society in alleviating exploitation. Lastly, Ruggie guidelines have been able to compel business entities in taking responsibility when human rights are breached and in respecting any legally absorbed recommendation concerning functions and operations in the society (Aaronson & Higham, 2013). In other words, Ruggie framework and guidelines have assisted the United Nations in structuring systems of ensuring human rights are respected and followed as they are demanded.
In the protection of human rights by different parties, questions are asked as to why there is a need for concern when a state does not have mechanisms for protecting the said rights. First, human rights have to be protected from being misused and eroded by the state of the people (Khan, 2013). Commissions of inquiry are supposed to be constituted to be the bodies in charge of protecting human rights from the market adjustments as business entities adjust to cover more grounds. Legal and humanitarian experts need to come together and form commissions which will address any gaps in the implementation of human rights.
Secondly, for human rights to better protect people from mistreatment and exploitation, they have to be protected and supported. The state should consult the independent bodies which are formed by business people to protect the rights of their members, and work with them in ensuring that these officials compel their members into respecting the rule of law (Khan, 2013). Human rights are structured into laws and businesses associations can help in making market participants obey them. Thus, there is a need for legally adopting and protecting the human rights framework for there to be sanity in the society. If these rights are not protected, they cannot have the threshold to protect people.
Lastly, there is a need for thorough consultation between the market participants, the human rights experts and the state representatives in the management of the business environment. In these dialogues, recommendations can be raised and discussed on how to ensure that human rights do not hinder people from carrying out business activities (Khan, 2013). This is because the people who are guaranteed their rights are the same people participating in the business. Environmental rights are equally important as human rights. This is due to the significance contribution that environment makes in the running of business in the marketplace. First, the environment can be protected through substituting natural resources with man-made resources. There are instances where technology is used to make a raw material from waste products of another production process.
Secondly, environmental sensitivity should be preached among the market players where dumping and over-exploitation of the environment will be discouraged by the same people who are targeted by the campaign. People need to understand the laws for them to uphold them willingly and adhere to them without friction (Khan, 2013). Lastly, recycling of used products should be encouraged so that wastage of resources and over-exploitation of the natural setting in search of raw material can be minimized. For instance, water is renewable but in most market situations, it is disposed of immediately after being used, hence making it compulsory to get a fresh one from the environment.
In conclusion, the analysis of both individual and systemic structure in the market regarding self-interest and efficiency is paramount since it helps in understanding the factors forcing capitalists to exploit their workers and why business entities always place profits before human rights. John Ruggie states that it is the responsibility of the state to protect the rights of its citizen. He also says that it is also a corporate social responsibility for businesses to respect human rights. Finally, he states that there is a need for access to remedy for those people who fall victim of abuse of human rights by business entities. Human rights are environmental rights ought to be protected from abuse and erosion, since they act as stumbling blocks for those people who seek to exploit nature for their selfish motives.