Expanding corporate responsibility : the role of business in creating sustainable peace and security
Webb, Susan Elizabeth.
Thesis (M.A.L.S.)--Georgetown University, 2009.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. Foreign corporations have provided significant investment toward the economic and social progress of developing countries, but the impact of their presence and operations is often a mixed blessing. In many cases, the actions or inactions of multinational corporations (MNCs) contributed directly or indirectly to human rights abuses and fueled violent conflict in areas at high-risk for civil war. The 1990s saw a prevalence of human rights issues involving corporations, from an unflagging system of apartheid in South Africa to the exposure of child and forced labor in factories and dangerous industries to violent conflict in the oil fields of the Niger Delta. In the same time period, civil conflict and civil war were on the rise, often in weak or failing states with heavy dependence on corporate extraction of their natural resources for revenue.; International attention, including increasing pressure from activist shareholders and global social movements, has thus over the last 30 years shifted toward expanding the responsibility and role of MNCs in many non-economic areas of civil society, including the protection of human rights and conflict prevention. The desire for enhanced engagement by corporations has been driven by several dynamic situations: 1) the changing nature of conflict is challenging traditional conflict resolution methods; 2) weak and failed nation states are changing attitudes toward the principle of national sovereignty; and 3) globalization and expanding market economies mean that business has greater influence and interests in international affairs and global stability.; Two new concepts emerged to address these global challenges: corporate social responsibility (CRS) and conflict prevention. Both frameworks define an interest and need for corporations to take greater care and responsibility with regard to the impacts of their operations, and go further in asking corporations to use their influence to address human rights issues and to engage in peacebuilding and establishing security outside of their gates.; Voluntary codes of conduct based on international standards have evolved to address a broad range of corporate investment issues and provide guidelines for MNC behavior. However, none of the traditional instruments provides a common framework for MNC behavior or guidelines for political engagement with regard to human rights, or address the unique challenges of doing business in countries with high risk for conflict. The lines have become blurred regarding responsibilities of corporations and those of the state and other actors, and national sovereignty principles are often in conflict with changing international norms.; This thesis explores current approaches to CSR and conflict prevention to understand whether new and better rules are needed for MNC political involvement in promoting human rights and securing peace, and if so, how to define a new political role and practical guidelines for MNCs.
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