The Institute for Multi-Stakeholder Initiative Integrity (also known as MSIntegrity and MSI Integrity) is a left-of-center nonprofit based in Berkley, California that acts as a watchdog for so-called multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs). MSIs are collaborations — often international in character — between governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations to address issues of social concern. MSIs have been formed to address environmental and human-rights concerns relating to the cultivation of palm oil, to regulate agricultural supply chains, or to improve working conditions in the global garment industry, among other areas.
Following the publication of the Institute’s 2020 evaluation of the effectiveness of MSIs, Not Fit-For-Purpose, the organization shifted from primarily engaging in MSI research to also advocating for regulatory alternatives to self-governance efforts.
In 2012 the Institute for Multi-Stakeholder Initiative Integrity was founded to research the effectiveness of multi-stakeholder initiatives by Tyler Giannini, clinical professor of law at Harvard University, and Amelia Evans of the Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic. In late 2012, the organization was incorporated independently as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization. A year later in 2013, the organization was launched publicly. 1
From May to August 2013, the Institute conducted a “global consultation,” collecting comments and feedback from institutions and individuals about proposed MSI evaluation tools. In October 2013, an advisory group assembled by the Institute made recommendations, generally supporting the organization’s proposed tools and methodologies. Thereafter, between November 2013 and February 2014, the Institute’s board considered the advisory group’s recommendation, eventually announcing their adoption of a core set of recommendations. 2
In 2020, the Institute released a report evaluating MSIs, titled Not Fit-For-Purpose. The report alleged that MSIs were subject to “capture” by corporate interests, did not adequately incorporate non-corporate stakeholders, had weak and narrow standards, and often offered few means for considering and redressing grievances. Particularly, the report alleges that MSIs do not prevent or provide remedies for human rights violations (per the international standards adopted into the Institute’s criteria). 3 In the report’s “Way Forward” section, the Institute concludes by recommending that stakeholders look to governmental regulation rather than MSIs to address issues of public concern. 4
Amelia Evans is the Institute’s executive director and cofounder; a fellow on economic inequality with the Open Society Foundations, a private grantmaking foundation created and funded by billionaire financier and liberal philanthropist George Soros; and a fellow at the New School’s Institute for the Cooperative Digital Economy, an academic organization that researches digital businesses owned and governed by their workers and users. 5 6 7 Formerly, Evans was a global human rights fellow at Harvard Law School as well as a clinical supervisor at its International Human Rights Clinic. 8
Deval Desai is the Institute’s board president. He is a member of the United Nations Roster of Experts on the Rule of Law and on Sanctions; international visiting fellow at the Bingham Center for the Rule of Law, a governance focused project of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law; a rule of law reform and governance expert with the World Bank specializing in Nigeria, Cameroon, Sierra Leone and Uganda; and a research fellow at the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy, an academic research organization within the Graduate Institute of Geneva that researches illiberalism and liberalism within democracies. 9 10 11
Tyler Giannini is the Institute’s board treasurer and cofounder. He is a clinical professor of law and directs the Human Rights Program and International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School. Formerly, he founded and directed EarthRights International, a left-of-center public interest law firm that provides pro bono legal representation in environmental lawsuits. 12 13
- “History.” MSI Integrity. Accessed October 25, 2021. https://www.msi-integrity.org/test-home/history/
- “2013 Global Consultation.” MSI Integrity. Accessed October 25, 2021. https://www.msi-integrity.org/test-home/history/consulation-2013/
- “Key Insights.” MSI Integrity. Accessed October 25, 2021. https://www.msi-integrity.org/not-fit-for-purpose/key-insights/
- “A Way Forward.” MSI Integrity. Accessed October 25, 2021. https://www.msi-integrity.org/not-fit-for-purpose/the-way-forward/
- “Who We Are.” Open Society Foundations. Accessed October 25, 2021.
- “Amelia Evans.” Open Society Foundations. October 25, 2021.
- “The New School Announces the Launch of the Institute for the Cooperative Digital Economy.” The New School. May 7, 2019. Accessed October 25, 2021. https://www.newschool.edu/pressroom/pressreleases/2019/ICDElaunch.htm
- “Amelia Evans.” MSI Integrity. Accessed October 25, 2021. https://www.msi-integrity.org/people-and-partners/amelia-evans/
- “ALBERT HIRSCHMAN CENTRE ON DEMOCRACY.” Graduate Institute of Geneva. Accessed October 25, 2021. https://www.graduateinstitute.ch/democracy
- “Deval Desai.” MSI Integrity. Accessed October 25, 2021. https://www.msi-integrity.org/deval-desai/
- “About Us.” Bingham Center for the Rule of Law. Accessed October 25, 2021. https://binghamcentre.biicl.org/aboutus?cookiesset=1&ts=1635201659
- “About Us.” EarthRights International. Accessed October 25, 2021. https://earthrights.org/about/
- “Tyler Giannini.” MSI Integrity. Accessed October 25, 2021. https://www.msi-integrity.org/tyler-gianni/