Challenges, Key Issues and Perspectives
Chapter 5: Multinational Corporations, Civil Society and Non-state Actors: Participation, Governance and Accountability
1. INTRODUCTION The advances in communications and information technology that have been crucial in the development of the current phase of globalisation have also facilitated the emergence and empowerment of non-state actors: civil society, multinational corporations, NGOs and even indigenous peoples can communicate, conduct transactions and associate with a speed and ease that was unthinkable a few decades ago. Despite not having any formal recognition or having been devoted independent chapters in the main texts on international law or international environmental law, non-state actors play a crucial and growing role in all matters of policy formulation, monitoring and compliance at the international and national levels: ‘with some recognised de iure rights non-state actors are de facto international actors for all intents and purposes’.1 Agenda 21, Chapter 27, paragraph 27.143 and Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration called for a greater role of non-state actors in enforcing international environmental law obligations in national courts, giving them an important role in ensuring compliance with agreed rules and standards.2 Multinational corporations (MNCs) have developed and grown in the last couple of decades to become powerful participants in global affairs and symbolise globalisation itself: the freedom to establish operations where production is most efficient in economic terms, the capacity to Sands, P. (2000), ‘International Law, the “Practitioner and Non-State Actors”’, in C. Wickremasinghe (ed.), The International Lawyer as Practitioner, London: British Institute of International and Comparative Law. 2 The role of non-state actors in compliance procedures is examined both in this chapter and...
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