Un's Human Rights Norms for Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises: An Imperfect Step in the Right Direction?

30 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2004

See all articles by Surya Deva

Surya Deva

City University of Hong Kong

Abstract

The formulation and approval of the Norms on Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights 2003 (Norms) by the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights is the most recent as well as significant UN response to the growing corporate irresponsibility for human rights violations. This article evaluates the provisions as well as omissions of the Norms. The central objective of this evaluation is to highlight the operational shortcomings of the Norms and also explore the possible approaches that could be taken to remedy them.

I demonstrate that though the UN Norms undoubtedly signify an improvement over earlier such attempts at the international level, they represent an imperfect step, albeit in the right direction. It is critical for the efficacy of the Norm that imperfections related to both formulation and implementation of TNCs' human rights obligations are further deliberated upon thoroughly before any move towards their adoption. It is argued that the Norms should not only deduce human rights obligations of TNCs from state-focal international treaties and maintain a distinction between aspirational and operational standards of human rights, but also establish a strong enforcement mechanism which invokes multiple sanctions. Moreover, the Norms should take the lead in responding to hindrances posed by the doctrine of forum non conveniens and the difficulties faced in making a parent corporation liable for human rights violations by its subsidiaries. Only then, the Norms could be considered a perfect step in the right direction.

Keywords: UN Norms on Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations, Human Rights Obligations for TNCs, Implementation and Enforcement of Human Rights Norms, Operational Shortcomings

Suggested Citation

Deva, Surya, Un's Human Rights Norms for Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises: An Imperfect Step in the Right Direction?. ILSA Journal of International & Comparative Law, Vol. 10, pp. 493-523, 2004, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=630422

Surya Deva (Contact Author)

City University of Hong Kong ( email )

School of Law
83 Tat Chee Avenue
Kowloon Tong
Hong Kong

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