A human rights approach to developing voluntary codes of conduct for multinational corporations

Business Ethics Quarterly 16 (2):255-270 (2006)
Abstract
Abstract: The criticism that voluntary codes of conduct are ineffective can be met by giving greater centrality to human rights in such codes. Provided the human rights obligations of multinational corporations are interpreted as moral obligations specifically tailored to the situation of multinational corporations, this could serve to bring powerful moral force to bear on MNCs and could provide a legitimating basis for NGO monitoring and persuasion. Approached in this way the human rights obligations of MNCs can be taken to include support for political as well as economic rights. This will go some way towards filling the regulatory gap created by the difficulty of controlling the activities of corporations operating globally. However, such a proposal will require a measure of ‘meta-regulation’ whereby the operations of MNCs are legally required to be sufficiently transparent to create the conditions for effective external moral scrutiny
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