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International Economic Law, Globalization and Developing Countries

International Economic Law, Globalization and Developing Countries

Edited by Julio Faundez and Celine Tan

International Economic Law, Globalization and Developing Countries explores the impact of globalization on the international legal system, with a special focus on the implications for developing countries.

Chapter 10: Human Rights and Transnational Corporations: Establishing Meaningful International Obligations

James Harrison

Subjects: development studies, development economics, law and development, economics and finance, development economics, international economics, law and economics, law - academic, human rights, intellectual property law, international economic law, trade law, law and development, law and economics, politics and public policy, human rights


James Harrison* 1. INTRODUCTION This chapter considers the value of international human rights norms and standards as mechanisms for effectively holding transnational corporations (TNCs)1 accountable for their broader social impacts, particularly in the context of developing countries. It argues that there are a number of existing human rights initiatives directed at the human rights performance of TNCs. But these suffer from significant accountability gaps and coverage problems which throw into question whether international human rights obligations are well placed to act as a system for enhancing TNC conduct across the full range of their diverse social impacts. It therefore focuses upon two specific methodological frameworks which are addressed to all TNCs internationally to assess how they might contribute to the establishment of more meaningful obligations: the Draft Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights (‘the UN Draft Norms’) produced by the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights; and ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy: a Framework for Business and Human Rights’ produced by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational * Associate Professor, School of Law, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK. 1 This article will use the term ‘transnational corporation’ (TNC) to describe a company with operations in more than one country. No differentiation is intended between this term and others such as ‘transnational enterprise’ or ‘multinational corporation/enterprise’. For a more nuanced discussion of these terms, see Muchlinski (2007a: 5ff). 205 M2397...

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