- Corporations, Globalisation and the Law series
Edited by Nina Boeger, Rachel Murray and Charlotte Villiers
Chapter 7: Corporate Social Responsibility: Do Corporations Have a Responsibility to Trade Fairly? Can the Fairtrade Movement Deliver the Duty?
7. Corporate social responsibility: do corporations have a responsibility to trade fairly? Can the Fairtrade movement deliver the duty? Janet Dine and Kirsteen Shields INTRODUCTION The concept of corporate social responsibility cuts across the boundaries between commercial law and human rights laws and, in particular, in a globalized world the Law of International Trade and International Human Rights Law. These disciplines have developed entirely separate frameworks, to the extent that on a visit to the World Trade Organization in 2001, one of the authors was told by an official that there was genuine puzzlement as to what relevance human rights law has to the trading regime. Economic development was seen as entirely politically neutral and beneficial. Since then the impact of social movements and anti-globalization protestors has made a significant difference in the way in which trade issues are discussed. It has even had some impact on the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) although probably least on the IMF. However, dialogue between the two fields is still in the early stages of development and there is a danger that the more powerful system will ‘capture’ the less powerful. In this instance we see the WTO system as more powerful than the international human rights system.1 This is for three primary reasons; the full engagement of the United States in the WTO (it is not a signatory to the UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights), the existence of binding legal sanctions at the conclusion of the dispute resolution mechanism of...
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