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Unformatted text preview: THE OBLIGATIONS OF TRANSNATIONAL CORPORATIONS: RAWLSIAN JUSTICE AND THE DUTY OF ASSISTANCE Nien-he Hsieh Abstract: Building on |ohn Rawls's account of the Law of Peoples, this paper examines the grounds and scope of the obligations of transnational corpo- rations (TNCs) that are owned by members of developed economies and operate in developing economies. The paper advances two broad claims. First, the paper argues that there are conditions under which TNCs have obligations to fulfill a limited duty of assistance toward those living in developing economies, even though the duty is normally understood to fall on the governments of developed economies. Second, by extending Rawls's account to include a right to protection against arbitrary inter- ference, the paper argues that TNCs can be said to have negative and positive obligations in the areas of human rights, labor standards, and environmental protection, as outlined in the U,N, Global Compact, More generally, the paper aims to further our understanding of the implications of Rawls's account of justice. T ransnational corporations (TNCs) continue to be called upon to assume greater responsibilities toward those living in the countries in which they operate. The 2000 United Nations Global Compact, for example, calls for corporations to abide by standards in the areas of human rights, labor, and the environment. Stakeholder theory recently has been interpreted as calling on corporations to act as global citizens (Post, 2002; Logsdon and Wood, 2002), In response, TNCs appear to be heeding these calls, as witnessed, for example, in the Chad-Cameroon Oil and Pipeline Project with its collaboration among oil companies, the World Bank, local NGOs, and govemment representatives,' In this light, in this paper I explore the scope and moral grounds of the respon- sibilities that TNCs have toward those living in the countries in which they operate. In particular, I focus on TNCs owned mainly by citizens of democratic, developed economies and on the positive obligations that TNCs might be said to have toward those in the developing economies in which they operate. The positive obligations that I consider are those outlined in the U.N, Global Compact, The Compact states: Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of intema- tionally proclaimed human rights within their sphere of influence; and Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses. 2004, Business Ethics Quarterly, Volume 14, Issue 4, ISSN 1052-150X, pp, 643-661 This document is authorized for use by Robert Fleishman , from 10/19/2010 to 1/19/20 BADM 053: Management, Organizations & Society - Radin (Fall-2 2010), George Wash Any unauthorized use or reproduction of this document is strictly prohibit 644 BUSINESS ETHICS QUARTERLY Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the ef- fective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;...
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This note was uploaded on 11/29/2010 for the course CHIN 3111 taught by Professor Chaves during the Spring '10 term at GWU.
- Spring '10