Edited by Stephen Tully
Chapter 13: UN: Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights, 2003
Commentary: In 1998 the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights began assessing commercial impacts upon human rights through a Working Group on the Working Methods and Activities of TNCs: SubCommission Resolution 1998/8. Since it was considered ‘appropriate to examine all these questions in a broader framework’ (UN Doc E/CN.4/Sub.2/1998/6: para 28), consideration was given to formulating a ‘new comprehensive set of rules’ representing expected standards of corporate behaviour (UN Doc E/CN.4/Sub.2/1996/12: para 74). All interested constituencies including business were invited to participate: UN Doc E/CN.4/Sub.2/1999/9: paras 5, 37. Individual firms and corporate coalitions were prepared to contribute to an authoritative set of principles if this would ‘establish a level playing field for business competition’ (UN Doc E/CN.4/Sub.2/2002/ WG.2/WP.1/Add.1: paras 16, 60). Differences of view arose with respect to the scope of application, legal nature, title, purpose and manner of implementation: UN Docs E/CN.4/Sub.2/2001/WG.2/WP.1/Add.3 (2001) and E/CN.4/Sub.2/2002/13. The resulting Norms (UN Doc E/CN.4/Sub.2/2003/12/Rev.2 (2003)) draw upon ILO Conventions, human rights treaties and intergovernmental guidelines as well as industry or commodity group initiatives, framework agreements between multinationals and workers’ organisations, self-imposed corporate codes and model guidelines from both NGOs and trade unions: UN Doc E/CN.4/Sub.2/2001/ WG.2/WP.1/Add.2 (2001). They were approved by the Sub-Commission through Resolution 2003/16: UN Doc E/CN.4/Sub.2/2003/L.11; see further, www.ohchr.org). The Norms seek to identify contemporary expectations, rationalise existing standards and enable the integration of human rights principles into commercial decisionmaking: see further, Commentary, UN Doc E/CN.4/Sub.2/2003/38/Rev.2. The UN Human Rights Commission affirmed that the Norms...
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