This book develops an analysis of the historical, political and legal contexts behind current demands by NGOs and the United Nations Human Rights Council to hold corporations accountable for their human rights violations. Based on an analysis of the range of mechanisms of accountability that currently exist, it argues that that those demands are a response to the failure of neo-liberal policies that have dominated the practice of politics and law since the emergence of this debate in its current form in the 1970s.
Offering a new approach to understanding how struggles for hegemony are refracted through a range of legal challenges to corporate human rights violations, the book offers a fresh perspective for understanding how those struggles are played out in the global sphere. In order to analyse the prospects for using human rights law to challenge the right of corporations to author human rights violations, the book explores the development of a range of political initiatives in the UN, the uses of tort law in domestic courts, and the uses of human rights law at the European Court of Human Rights and at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
This book will be essential reading for all those interested in how international institutions and NGOs are both shaping and being shaped by global struggles against corporate power.
Introduction: The Rarefied Politics of Global Legal Struggles
Introduction: Corporate Human Rights Violations
Human Rights and Corporate Accountability
A Mirror Image?
The Rarefied Politics of Global Consent
Global Social Ordering
Counter-hegemony and Resistance?
The Structure of the Book
Chapter One: From Economic Cannibalism to Corporate Human Rights LIabilities
Corporations, Human Rights and the UN
Corporations as Bearers of Rights
Corporations as Political Institutions
The Draft Norms
Lobbying the Norms
The NGO Lobby
Conclusion: Untangling the Roots of UN Policy
Chapter Two: Different Shades of Voluntarism
The Global Compact: ‘Support Group’ or ‘Good Old Boys Club’?
An American in the Court of King Kofi
The "Continuation of a Business-Friendly Agenda"?
The Guiding Principles
A Fake Consensus
Chapter Three: A Manufactured Consent
Evaluating the Role of the OECD Guidelines
Complaints Taken by NGOs
Corporate Structural Advantage
Chapter Four: Tort Law and the Struggle Against Corporate Human Rights Violations
The Civil Justice System and Corporate Accountability
Alien Tort Claims Act 1789
The Business Lobby Celebrates
European Transnational Tort Cases
Transnational Jurisdiction and the Imperial Court
Conclusion: Nearly Absolute Non-Accountability
Chapter Five: Struggles for Corporate Accountability in the Human Rights Courts
Positive and Negative Obligations
Positive Obligations into the Private Sphere
The Horizontal Effect in the European System
The Horizontal Effect in the Inter-American System
NGOs and the Struggle for Recognition
Struggles for Collective Rights
Chapter Six: ‘Human’ Rights for Profit
The Corporate Victim
Corporate Rights in Europe
Corporate Rights at the Inter-American Court
Corporate Law Trumps Human Rights Law
Political Struggles for Corporate Rights
Conclusion: New Mechanisms of Accountability for Corporate Human Rights Violations?
Making Struggles Around Human Rights Visible
Moving Towards a Treaty?
A Peoples’ Tribunal?