Research Handbook on Corporate Legal Responsibility
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Research Handbook on Corporate Legal Responsibility

Edited by Stephen Tully

The ever-important topic of corporate legal responsibility is deconstructed into many multifaceted components in this fascinating Handbook, which systematically examines each in turn and describes the contemporary legal position.
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Chapter 16: The Influence of NGOs on the Normative Framework for Business and Human Rights

Rory Sullivan


Rory Sullivan Introduction Over the past ten years, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the human rights field have focused significant attention on the role of companies for protecting and promoting human rights. NGO activities, mirroring the traditional NGO campaigning strategies of confrontation and protest against governments, have included high-profile boycott campaigns against clothing and shoe manufacturers and retailers, support for litigation against companies accused of involvement in human rights violations, shareholder resolutions, protests outside company offices and reports highlighting company involvement in or complicity with human rights violations. Human rights NGOs have also engaged directly with companies and have lobbied governments and international organisations to implement measures to encourage companies to improve their human rights performance. This chapter focuses on the influence of these engagement and lobbying activities on the normative framework within which companies operate, with a particular emphasis on the campaigning activities of international human rights NGOs (such as Amnesty International) and the responses of international companies (referred to here as ‘transnational corporations’: TNCs) and governments. Why are companies of concern? The relationship between foreign direct investment and human rights is not an easy one to assess. On the one hand are the arguments that TNCs can provide significant benefits through providing much needed jobs and development. On the other hand, recent years have seen a series of allegations of human rights violations by companies, especially in developing countries. These reports have related to issues such as children working in hazardous industries, sweatshops, security forces killing or injuring...

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