Picture Credit: New York Times
Who controls the brave new globalized world? States or Transnational Corporations (TNCs)? This page keeps track of the argument: how much power do TNCs have? What are the areas where they exercise their power? And, most importantly, how can citizens gain democratic control over these institutions?
Articles and Documents
Transparency International's Bribe Payers Index looks at the tendency of companies from 30 leading exporting countries to engage in bribery abroad. While companies from the wealthiest countries generally rank in the top half of the index, countries score within a relatively small range, indicating "a considerable propensity for companies of all nationalities to bribe when operating abroad." While OECD governments demand improved governance in poor countries, they fail to sufficiently clamp down on their own companies' shameful contribution to undermine these good governance efforts.
Discusses voluntary codes and regulatory approaches to the accountability of global corporate investment. A background paper for the UN Financing for Development process, written by James A. Paul and Jason Garred of Global Policy Forum.
Report on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Related Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights (February 15, 2005)
This United Nations report provides an overview of the existing corporate social responsibility initiatives and standards. It also discusses the UN Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with regard to Human Rights, and makes recommendations on how to advance the dialogue between states, transnational corporations and other stakeholders.
The UN Sub-commission on the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights adopted norms stating that "transnational corporations ..., as organs of society, are also responsible for promoting and securing ... human rights," including the right to development. While those norms signify an important step towards codification of corporate accountability, they do not include binding monitoring mechanisms.
Reports on human rights violations by corporations operating globally raise concerns about the effectiveness of existing oversight measures. Human Rights Watch argues that voluntary approaches are inadequate as they encourage ad-hoc actions against human rights violations by both corporation and government, advocating for enforceable standards and greater government oversight. States where companies are based are responsible for safeguarding extra-territorial human rights, particularly when the host country government lacks the necessary capacity to scrutinize operations. While the 2012 UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights raise good options, the principles themselves are less ambitious than other human rights standards and do not require mandatory commitments. Anti-bribery approaches employed by the UN and OECD and increasing corporate disclosure are good starting points for improving corporate accountability. (Human Rights Watch)
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