What Conflict Minerals Rules Tell Us about the Legal Transplantation of Corporate Social Responsibility Standards without the State: From the United Nations to the United States to Taiwan

Chang-hsien Tsai, Yen-nung Wu | January 1, 2018

To resolve global political and scholarly concerns over conflict minerals (“CM”) produced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and neighboring regions, two kinds of CM-related disclosure rules (or “CM rules”) come into play in regulating their use: government-mandated laws such as Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act in the United States (hereinafter “Sec. 1502”) and transnational voluntary codes such as the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (“EICC”) Code of Conduct. The creation of both of these CM rules could be attributed to the promotion of such concerns by the United Nations. This article is the first attempt to unpack and closely consider the process of two distinct types of CM rules that are probably transplanted into Taiwan through global supply chains.

This article joins a growing body of literature that deepens our understanding of the channels and objects of legal transplants. The findings of the Taiwanese case study are important for two reasons. First, in terms of the transplant process or channels, some Taiwanese companies have started to follow CM rules due to their supply contracts, demonstrating that applicable CM rules might have been transplanted into Taiwan through private channels such as supply contracts, rather than through the formal public channels of legal transplantation initiated by the government. Second, but just as importantly, with regard to transplanted objects, what further distinguishes this article from prior studies is that the Taiwanese case study could indicate that Taiwanese suppliers comply with CM rules established by the EICC more prevalently than those promulgated under the Dodd-Frank Act. If so, this would imply that when it comes to adopting or implementing transnational corporate social responsibility (“CSR”) standards in suppliers’ countries or jurisdictions, private CSR standards written by non-governmental organizations (“NGOs”) or industries themselves in a bottom-up approach are more effective or more easily accepted than public standards such as state laws enacted by a foreign/national government in a top-down approach.