Chapter 43: Global Governance and the Certification Revolution: Types, Trends and Challenges
Axel Marx Products are increasingly being manufactured, assembled and traded on an international scale. Multinational companies manage production chains that are organised on transnational lines and sometimes consist of thousands of suppliers. Many of these suppliers are established in countries or specific geographical zones within countries where there are few if any social regulations in the field of the environment, labour and human rights. In global terms, there are fears that production will move to countries with no social or environmental standards. Over the past two decades this has led to various protest actions by non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Some of these actions have been directed at ‘the system’ as such (the anti-globalisation movement), while others have targeted specific multinational companies. Multinationals such as Home Depot, Nike, Adidas and Toys R Us have been confronted with various types of actions ranging from boycotts and street protests to the systematic monitoring of companies’ actions in areas such as the environment and human rights (the various ‘watch’ websites) and the exposure of malpractices in the media. At the same time, global private regulatory initiatives have emerged, aimed at imposing voluntary obligations on producers concerning environmental protection, labour conditions or product safety. These private regulatory initiatives develop specific social and/or ecological standards. When producers meet these standards, they receive a certificate or a label that is used in external communication intended for consumers and other companies. The past few years have seen a significant increase in such initiatives. The literature includes references to the...
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