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Global business and human rights

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  • Law
  • Ecology
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • Law
  • Political Science


Text International law is unclear on whether corporationshave any international obligations to protect humanrights, or any such obligations that relate to business can be directly imposed on them. Both the Human Rights Watch’s annual world report 2006 and the interim report of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises are now out, and these provide ample food for thought about global business and its relationship to human rights. Transnational business operations across the globe are a common phenomenon, and are increasingly more so in the age of globalization. While such operations are considered to be blessings for economic growth and development in the host countries concerned in particular, and for the global economy in general, there are frequent allegations against transnational corporations (TNCs) of violation of human rights, environmental degradation and so on. Such allegations abound lately, for example, that against Exxon Mobil Corp in Indonesia, Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc in Guatemala, ChevronTexaco Corp in Nigeria and in Ecuador, Unocal in Myanmar, and Occidental Petroleum Corp, Coca-Cola Co and the coal miner Drummond Co in Colombia, to name but a few. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) rather than host governments eloquently express the affected peoples’ concerns and grievances in international forums and take actions against the culprits in various relevant jurisdictions. Recently this appears to be a growing tendency. But the victims and their supporters apparently stumble in the forecourt of the law that is very shaky in this respect. This phenomenon poses a big challenge for international law, in general, and international human rights law, in particular, more than ever before in the progressively globalized world. Just imagine the scenario for a moment: there are some 70,000 transnational firms operating in the world today, together with roughly 700,000 subsidi

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