The Responsibility of Transnational Corporations in the Realization of Children's Rights

Posted: 8 Feb 2014

See all articles by Isabel Mota Borges

Isabel Mota Borges

University of Oslo, Faculty of Law, Norwegian Centre for Human Rights

Date Written: February 6, 2014

Abstract

Transnational Corporations (TNCs), especially those operating in developing countries have enormous socio-economic power, sometimes more than states. Many seek poor and unregulated markets to produce their goods, employing cheap, underage and fragile children to try and create an economic competitive advantage and meet increasing international market demands. While many of them bring business and prosperity to a region these benefits can be outweighed by the damages they perpetuate when behaving irresponsibly - occasionally irreparably - detrimentally impacting on children’s enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. The problem is exacerbated when national governments are unable or unwilling to regulate TNCs operations.

It shall be argued that despite the private legal status of Transnational Corporations they are subjected to human rights obligations because some forms of exploitative child labor have become universally condemned and thus possess jus cogens status. The analysis shows that there is no deficiency within international human right standards regarding child labor and these maybe interpreted as giving direct obligations to TNCs to respect, protect and fulfill children’s rights. However, the rising numbers of exploitative child labor raises serious doubts about the effectiveness of those standards to adequately regulate powerful TNCs, which are by definition, not limited to concepts of territorial sovereignty. The results of the research outlines the desperate need for a renewed international legal framework going beyond soft law approaches, to clearly define legal obligations and methods to enforce responsibilities on TNCs; and where the role of the state, of other non-state actors and the child itself are also key to ensuring effective protection and fulfillment of children’s rights.

Keywords: child labor, transnational corporations, human rights

Suggested Citation

Mota Borges, Isabel, The Responsibility of Transnational Corporations in the Realization of Children's Rights (February 6, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2391723 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2391723

Isabel Mota Borges (Contact Author)

University of Oslo, Faculty of Law, Norwegian Centre for Human Rights ( email )

Oslo, 0130
Norway

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