Accountability in the Global Business Environment
At the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SSRG)’s regional consultation on the issue of business and human rights held in New Delhi, February 2009,1 I stood up and asked what would happen if TNCs could sit down at the same table as states when human rights and environmental instruments were negotiated. There were some nods, but many more expressions of doubt and suspicion. There are good reasons for such doubts and suspicions. There are good reasons to remain suspicious of the implications of allowing powerful business a presence at international forums, especially when those forums are debating politically sensitive questions. There is also the whole question of the role and status of NGOs at such forums. Despite the uncertainties, however, working out a role for both TNCs and NGOs in international agreement-making is both necessary and worthwhile. The main obstacle in the way of bringing TNCs to the same table as other members of the international community is lack of trust. NGOs and smaller, poorer states in particular have become, with good reason, very wary of the influence of TNCs. They would see little benefit in potentially opening up yet another avenue for the exercise of that influence. On the part of TNCs, there is an equally great fear and suspicion of being subjected to further regulation. US firms in particular appear to have a phobia about ‘being regulated’. This book began by examining the nature of the modern corporation both as a legal form and as a...
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