Obligations under EU Law and International Law
Chapter 10: Conclusions
This book addressed the question of how the European Union can ensure that EU-based MNEs respect human rights when operating in third countries. First, it identified primary obligations on MNEs as developed by international law in order to tackle the above question. Secondly, on the basis of this theoretical framework, it investigated how the European Union has acted to promote respect for human rights obligations by MNEs which are based on the territory of one of its Member States. Thirdly, the gap between the EU’s commitment to the respect and promotion of human rights, the potential to regulate the conduct of MNEs, and the EU’s reluctance to impose human rights obligations on MNEs was explored. Defining the scope of MNEs’ responsibility for human rights constituted an unavoidable step, in order to identify the most appropriate strategies in holding corporations accountable for human rights under EU law. In examining the scope of the human rights responsibility of MNEs, a tension has been identified between the current definition of MNE responsibility in merely negative terms (obligation to respect), which requires business to refrain from acts that could interfere with the enjoyment of human rights, and emerging ethical concerns, which call upon MNEs to participate actively in society by endorsing positive obligations to promote, protect and fulfil, human rights in certain situations. These obligations are already in place on an ethical and moral basis, although they still lack an appropriate legal framework and enforcement mechanisms. It has been suggested that current human rights...
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