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Backer on business and human rights

Professor Larry Catá Backer has recently published in Melbourne Journal of International Law an excellent case note on two recent cases decided by UK National Contact Point under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Here is the title and abstract:

Rights and Accountability in Development (‘Raid’) v Das Air and Global Witness v. Afrimex – Small steps towards an autonomous transnational legal system for the regulation of multinational corporations

The enforcement framework for the OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises has long been the subject of criticism, especially by representatives of private and public actors. But two recent cases have suggested that enforcement actions arising from civil society efforts to utilise the national contact points complaint system may be slowly influencing the emerging discourse of corporate behaviour in ways that will have substantial effect. Beyond providing evidence of a more muscular institutional transnational enforcement structure for soft law codes, the cases serve to outline a framework for the interaction of transnational and national systems of corporate regulation. The multilateral system for governing multinational corporate behaviour will affect not only that behaviour, but also the rules through which corporations may be governed as to their internal affairs and with respect to the character of their legal personality. The cases illustrate the way in which advances in governance issues are being crafted, step-by-step, from out of a system that, while formally non-binding, is increasingly developing the characteristics of a binding governance system. These cases suggest the parameters within which the Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are beginning to serve as the focal point for the construction of an autonomous transnational governance system that is intended to serve as the touchstone for corporate behaviour in multinational economic relationships.

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