24 Hastings Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. 339 (2000-2001)
Categories of Corporate Complicity in Human Rights Abuses

handle is hein.journals/hasint24 and id is 353 raw text is: Categories of Corporate Complicity in
Human Rights Abuses*
The movement towards greater corporate social responsibility is
now entering a phase where the parameters of this responsibility are
being defined. In the field of human rights, there are growing
expectations that corporations should do everything in their power to
promote universal human rights standards, even in conflict situations
where governance structures have broken down. At the same time,
corporations may fear that they are being asked to take on
responsibilities of the state. This is coupled with concerns, including
by some human rights advocates, that by stressing the corporate role,
government responsibilities for protecting human rights could
inadvertently be downgraded.
The boundaries of what is expected from business, and what a
state is obliged to do under international law, cannot be neatly drawn.
It must be stressed, however, that governments do still possess wide
powers over-and primary responsibility for-the well being of their
citizens and for the protection of human rights. Corporations, even as
they agree to take on greater responsibility in the human rights field,
do not have the same legal duties as states under international law
and cannot be expected to substitute for the role of governments.
What is the responsibility of a business with operations in a
country where human rights violations are widespread or where
* This paper is based on a background paper for the Global Compact dialogue
on the role of the private sector in zones of conflict, New York, March 21-22, 2001.
** Andrew Clapham is an Associate Professor of Public International Law,
Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva.
*** Scott Jerbi is a Human Rights Officer in the Office of the High Commissioner
for Human Rights (OHCHR). Any opinion expressed in this piece is not necessarily
the official view of OHCHR.

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