Closing the Governance Gap
Corporations, Globalisation and the Law series
Chapter 1: Corporations and international law
In this chapter we shall consider the international law background to the ‘governance cap’ by analysing the responsibilities under international law of its three participants: Host States where subsidiaries of multinational corporations operate; home States where their parent corporations operate; multinational corporations themselves. States are the primary bearers of obligations under human rights instruments but will also owe an obligation to exercise due diligence to ensure that those rights are not violated by private parties within their jurisdiction. However, host states are often unwilling or unable to take action against corporate wrongdoers within their jurisdiction, and indeed are themselves often the primary violators of the human rights obligations to which they have acceded. Article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the ICCPR) requires States Parties ‘to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognised in the Covenant’. Article 2(2) provides that States Parties undertake to adopt laws and other measures necessary to give effect to the rights recognised by the ICCPR, and Article 2(3) provides that the States Parties must ensure that persons whose rights have been violated have access to an effective remedy, that access to the effective remedy is determined by competent authorities, and that such remedies are enforced when granted.