The United Nations Centre on Transnational Corporations (UNCTC) was established in 1975 and abolished in 1992. It was an early effort by the UN to address the overlapping issues of national sovereignty, corporate responsibility and global governance. These issues have since multiplied and deepened with globalization. This book recounts the UNCTC experience and its lessons for international organizations.
This book is not only an insider perspective by two former staff but also a collective memoir of the UNCTC as an international organization that attempted with varying success to defuse the clash between corporates and states that erupted in the turbulent 1970s. This personal account of the UNCTC is a mixture of history, analysis, reflections, and critical commentaries, told in different voices that penetrate the bland persona of international civil service. In this retelling, the authors seek to address misconceptions amongst the more general literature and to seek to provide accounts of both its positive and negative features.
The UNCTC experience recounted in this book holds valuable lessons for international organization and will be of interest to student, scholars and practitioners alike.
Introduction, 1. The United Nations Centre on Transnational Corporations, reflections: Sotirios Mousouris, Peter Hansen, 2. The transnational corporation: separating fact from fiction, reflections: Persephone Economu, Zbigniew Zimny, 3. Code of conduct: attempting an international regulatory framework, reflections: Samuel K. B. Asante, Karl P. Sauvant, Kari Tapiola, Miguel Marín-Bosch, Guttorm Vik, 4. Transparency and disclosure: lifting the veil from corporate reporting, reflections: Robin Jarvis, Richard Martin, Peter Walton, Nancy Kamp-Roelands, 5. Activism and engagement: setting standards for corporate behavior, reflections: Christiane Stepanek-Allen, Harris Gleckman, 6. Country policies: maximizing the positive, minimizing the negative, reflections: Rory Allan, Susan Brandwayn, Maurice Odle, Julian Gomez, 7. Corporate conduct and the public interest, reflections: Antoine Basile, Klaus Sahlgren
"This solid piece of research helps us understand the difficulties in addressing the governance gap with respect to the global influence of corporate power that Salvador Allende denounced, and nowadays epitomized by the care taken to protect ‘too big to fail’ international banks at the heart of the financial crisis that is still with us."
Juan Somavía, Statesman, Diplomat, Chile
"UNCTC was one of the innovative initiatives in the 1970s. Among its contributions was support to countries making their debut as host states for foreign investment. Need to promote corporate social responsibility now features in the agenda of corporations and governments. Cessation of its operations created a void that has been difficult to fill."
Kamal Hossain, Statesman, Jurist, Bangladesh
"UNCTC successfully assisted developing countries in negotiating with foreign investors. Several organizations attempted to serve the same needs. They are much more likely to succeed if their managers learn from the UNCTC experience. The authors of this book know the inside stories, and tell them."
Louis T. Wells, Harvard Business School