In Lieu of a Sovereignty Shield, Multinational Corporations Should Be Responsible for the Harm They Cause
- 1.1k Downloads
Some progress has been made in recent decades to articulate corporate social responsibility (CSR) and, more recently, to associate CSR with international enforcement of human rights. This progress continues to be hampered, however, by the ability of a multinational corporation (MNC) that violates human rights not only to shift liability from itself to a nation-state but even to win compensation from that nation-state for loss of profits due to restrictions on its business activities. In the process, the nation-state’s sovereignty is diminishing; and, in effect, though still attributed to nation-states, it is being transferred to the MNC. The main aim of this article is (1) to draw on normative considerations to claim that this MNC proto-sovereignty should be modified and (2) to contend that this can eventually be accomplished by adding to corporate adoption of CSR guidelines a regimen of global human rights enforcement. I base this contention on expectations about the internationalization of corporate criminal law and the globalization of civil society in general and of NGOs in particular. I consider various jurisdictions but I focus on US jurisprudence.
KeywordsSovereignty Human rights Corporate social responsibility Corporate criminal law Global civil society
Special thanks to Anne Donchin, Ph.D., for her wise editorial and scholarly suggestions.
- AA Robinson (2008). “Corporate Culture” as a basis for the criminal liability of corporations. Prepared by M. Donaldson and R. Watters for the UN special representative of the Security General for Business and Human Rights (J. G. Ruggie). Online at http://188.8.131.52/Allens-Arthur-Robinson-Corporate-Culture-paper-for-Ruggie-Feb-2008.pdf.
- Alston, P. (Ed.). (2005). Non-state actors and human rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Alvarez, J. E. (2011). Are corporations “subjects” of international law? Santa Clara Journal of International Law, 9(1), 1–36.Google Scholar
- An-Na’im, A. (1990). Toward an Islamic reformation: Civil liberties, human rights, and International law. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.Google Scholar
- Baldwin, E., Kantor, M., & Nolan, M. (2006). Limits to enforcement of ICSID awards. Journal of International Arbitration, 23(1), 1–24.Google Scholar
- Barker, J. (2013). Corporate sovereignty: Law and government under capitalism. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press (forthcoming).Google Scholar
- Beale, S. S. (2009). A response to the critics of corporate criminal liability. American Criminal Law Review, 46, 1481–1505.Google Scholar
- Bigge, D. M. (2011). Can investors use MFN [most favored nation] to dodge transparency? New York University School of Law Center for Transnational Litigation and Commercial Law, online at http://www.iidj.org/reseach/documents/IF2010-11.Bigge.pdf.
- Brickley, P. (2013). Home court for corporations: Decision permits bylaws that restrict shareholder litigation to delaware. Wall Street Journal (July 8), p. B4.Google Scholar
- Byrne, E. F. (1990). Work, Inc.: A philosophical inquiry. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
- Byrne, E. F. (2011). Book review: Trade barriers to the public good. Techné, 15(3), 235–237.Google Scholar
- Černič, J. L. (2008). Corporate responsibility for human rights: A critical analysis of the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises. Hanse Law Review, 4(1), 71–100.Google Scholar
- Clapham, A. (2006). Human rights obligations of non-state actors. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Fauchald, O. K., & Stigen, J. (2009). Corporate responsibility before International institutions. George Washington International Law Review, 40, 1025–1100.Google Scholar
- Flynn, J. (2013). Reframing the intercultural dialogue on human rights. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Fraser, N. (2005). Transnationalizing the public sphere. Retrieved from http://www.republicart.net/disc/publicum/fraser01_en.htm.
- Garrett, A. D. (2008). The corporation as Sovereign. Maine Law Review, 60, 129–164.Google Scholar
- Gladwell, M. (2010). Small change. New Yorker (Oct 4), retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/10/04/101004fa_fact_gladwell.
- Goering, C. (2007). Amnesty international and economic, social, and cultural rights. In D. A. Bell & J.-M. Coicaud (Eds.), Ethics in action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Greenwald, G. (2011). With liberty and justice for some: How the law is used to destroy equality and protect the powerful. New York: Henry Holt and Company Metropolitan Books.Google Scholar
- Greenwood, D. H. (2005). The Semi-Sovereign Corporation. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 05-04, University of Utah S. J. Quinney College of Law.Google Scholar
- Greider, W. (2001). Sovereign Corporations. The Nation (April 30). Retrieved from http://www.thenation.com/article/sovereign-corporations#axzzRu2GbHz.
- Hasnas, J. (2009). The centenary of a mistake: One hundred years of corporate criminal liability. American Criminal Law Review, 46, 1329–1358.Google Scholar
- Howard-Hassman, R. E. (2010). Can globalization promote human rights? University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.Google Scholar
- Joseph, S. (2012). Social Media, Political Change, and Human Rights. Boston College International and Comparative Law Review, 35(1), 145–188. Retrieved from http://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1667&con.
- Kahn, I. (2009). The unheard truth: Poverty and human rights. New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
- Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, 569 U.S. ____ (2013).Google Scholar
- Korff, D., and Brown, I. (2011). Social media and human rights. Commission for Human Rights Issue Discussion Paper. Retrieved from https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1904319.
- Ku, J. G., & Conway III, G. T. (2013). When corporate defendants go on offense. Wall Street Journal (July 5), p. A11.Google Scholar
- Kyl, J., Feith, D. J., & Fonte, J. (2013). The war of law: How new International law undermines democratic sovereignty. Foreign Affairs, 92(4), 115–125.Google Scholar
- Leaming, J. (2013). Supreme court hobbles efforts to combat corporate human rights violations overseas. American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. Retrieved April 17, 2013 from http://www.acslaw.org/acsblog/supreme-court-hobbles-efforts-to-combat-corporate-human-rights-violations-overseas.
- Leonhardt, D. (2013). Who will crack the code? New York Times (May 26), pp. SR 1–6.Google Scholar
- Linklater, A. (1998). The transformation of political community: Ethical foundations of the post-Westphalian era. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press.Google Scholar
- Liptak, A. (2013). Friend of the corporation: The Roberts court (is) the most pro-business in decades. New York Times, May 5, pp BU 1, 5.Google Scholar
- Maritain, J. (1951). Man and the state. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Markoff, G. (2013). Arthur Andersen and the myth of the corporate death penalty: Corporate criminal convictions in the twenty-first century. University of Pennsylvania Journal of Business Law. 15(3), 797–842. Retrieved from http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2132242.
- Mauldin, W., & Kapner, S. (2013). U.S. Retailers move to spur factory safety in Bangladesh. Wall Street Journal (July 11), B3.Google Scholar
- Mayer, A. E. (2012). Islam and human rights: Tradition and politics (5th ed.). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
- Melé, D. (2006) Mainstream theories on normative corporate social responsibility: Analysis from catholic social theory. Retrieved from http://wwwstthomas.edu/cathstudies/cst/conferences/thegoodcompany/Finalpapers/Mele%20Final%20Paper.pdf.
- Michalos, A. (2008). Trade barriers to the public good: Free trade and environmental protection. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.Google Scholar
- Norris, F. (2013). Tribune falls afoul of its own tax strategy. New York Times (June 21). pp. B1 and 6.Google Scholar
- Nuremberg Scholars. (2010). Brief of Amicus Curiae Nuremberg Scholars in support of Plaintiffs-Appellants-Cross Appellees’ petition for rehearing and for rehearing En Banc, available online as Kiobel-rehearing-Nuremberg-amicus.pdf as one of the Amicus briefs in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch petroleum/shell, EarthRights International. Retrieved from http://www.earthrights.org/publication/amicus-briefs-kiobel-v-royal-dutch-dutch-petroleumshell.
- Pellet, A. (2009). State sovereignty and the protection of fundamental human rights: An international law perspective. Pugwash Online: Conferences on Science and World Affairs, retrieved from http://www.pugwash.org/reports/rc/pellet.htm.
- Rawls, J. (1971). A theory of justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Belknap Press. Google Scholar
- Ruggie, J. G. (2013). Just business: Multinational corporations and human rights. New York/London: W. W. Norton & Co.Google Scholar
- Runzo, R., Martin, N. M., & Sharma, A. (Eds.). (2003). Human rights and responsibilities in the world religions. Vol. IV in the library of global ethics and religion. Oxford: Oneworld Publications.Google Scholar
- Seymour, M., (Ed.) (2004). The fate of the nation-state. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press.Google Scholar
- Shirky, C. (2011). The political power of social media. Foreign Affairs, 90(28), 28–29.Google Scholar
- Smullen, A. J. (2011). Risky Business: The Criminal Prosecution of Corporations. Retrieved from http://www.rightoncrime.com/2011/1/the-risky-business-of-criminalization/.
- Stephens, P. (2013). Nations are chasing the illusion of sovereignty. Financial Times (June 7), p. 9.Google Scholar
- Switzer, C. (2013). Inside the human rights campaign’s social-media Success. The Chronicle of Philanthropy (July 2). Retrieved from http://philanthropy.com/article/Inside-the-Human-Rights/138423/.
- Taylor, C. (1999). Conditions of an unforced consensus on human rights. In J. Bauer & D. A. Bell (Eds.), The East Asian challenge for human rights. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- von Moltke, K. (2000). An International Investment Regime? Winnipeg, CA: International Institute for Sustainable Development; Public Statement on the International Investment Regime, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, online at http://www.osgoode.york.ca/public_statement.
- Walters, G. J. (2001). Human rights in an information age: A philosophical analysis. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
- Weissbrodt, D., & Kruger, M. (2005). Human rights responsibilities of businesses as non-state actors, In: Alston P. (Ed.) Oxford, NY: Routledge. pp. 315–350.Google Scholar
- Weissman, A. (2007). A new approach to corporate criminal liability. American Criminal Law Review, 44, 1319–1342.Google Scholar
- Welch, C. E, Jr. (Ed.). (2001). NGOs and human rights: Promise and performance. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
- Zamagni, S. (2006). The ethical anchoring of corporate social responsibility and the critique of CSR. In: L. Zsolnai (Ed.) Interdisciplinary yearbook of business ethics, vol. 1 Oxford: Peter Lang, (pp. 31–51). Republished in M. Schlag and J. A. Mercado (eds.), Free markets and the culture of common good, ethical economy. 41, 191–207.Google Scholar