Corporate accountability for human rights violations : road to a binding instrument on business and human rights

Osim, Philippa and Skogly, Sigrun and Cahill, Amanda (2019) Corporate accountability for human rights violations : road to a binding instrument on business and human rights. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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The international community has awoken to the reality that large transnational corporations (TNCs) do not only control more resources than a good number of states. They wield enormous influence in the corporate world which greatly impacts on local cultures and initiatives. Many of these TNCs, who operate in developing states, engage in activities which frequently result in human rights abuses. Several states rely on the resources extracted by these large corporations as the main stay of their economies. Consequently, they lack the economic capacity and political will to effectively regulate the activities of the TNCs, leaving these entities to perpetrate human rights abuses in the local communities with impunity. Major international regulatory initiatives, such as the UN Guiding Principles, ILO declaration, and the OECD Guidelines have been adopted to fill in the regulatory gaps. As is analysed and detailed in this thesis, these initiatives have however proven ineffective. They have been criticized as being mere political commitments which lack the necessary legal binding force to ensure their implementation and enforcement. Following several calls from civil society, the Human Rights Council at its 26th session in July 2014, established an open-ended intergovernmental working group (OEIGWG) to elaborate on an international legally binding instrument on business and human rights to ensure that the activities of TNCs are effectively regulated. In July 2018, the OEIGWG published a zero draft of a legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises. The Zero Draft contains proposals for what could later be the provisions of the much-anticipated instrument that could fill in the regulatory gaps left by current business and human rights instruments and ensure corporate accountability for human rights abuse. Following an in-depth discussion on states’ obligations to protect against human rights violations committed by business enterprises, the main thrust of this thesis is to examine the proposals on the content, scope and implementation for the binding instrument as contained in the current zero draft. This will be done in order to determine whether it holds any potential for the improvement of the current human rights regulatory system in relation to the activities of transnational corporations.

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10 Oct 2019 13:25
Last Modified:
19 Mar 2024 00:02