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v15_2004j - Corporate Crime in a Globalized Economy An...

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165 Corporate Crime in a Globalized Economy: An Examination of the Corporate Legal Conundrum and Positive Prospects for Peace 7 9 Paula Richardson is a Master of Arts candidate at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University ([email protected]). C ORPORATE C RIME IN A G LOBALIZED E CONOMY : A N E XAMINATION OF THE C ORPORATE L EGAL C ONUNDRUM AND P OSITIVE P ROSPECTS FOR P EACE Paula Richardson “This is it. They are going to arrest us all and execute us. All for Shell.” Ken Saro-Wiwa, a leader of the Nigerian Move- ment for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSAP), made this statement two weeks before his arrest in May 1994. Jailed for exposing the company’s role in directing and arming the Nigerian military, Saro-Wiwa’s efforts paved the way for simi- lar campaigns throughout the world, in places as diverse as India, China, Colombia, Chad and Sudan. As the number of such cases has increased over the past decade, so too has the public’s scrutiny. What are the legal and ethical obligations of corporations operating in a conflict zone? How effective is existing international law in ensuring that companies are held accountable for extraterritorial human rights violations? Taking into account existing efforts to address corporate ac- countability on a global scale, this paper concludes that neither national legislation nor voluntary corporate codes of conduct provide an adequate means to ensure the protection of human rights. Instead, an international system must be created—one Journal of Public and International Affairs, Volume 15/Spring 2004 Copyright © 2004, the Trustees of Princeton University http://www.princeton.edu/~jpia
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166 Paula Richardson with sufficient oversight and monitoring powers to ensure that corporations adopt conflict-sensitive policies that contribute to peace and security. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, we are living in a world of increasing economic interdependence. Global markets provide oppor- tunities for firms to do business on six continents, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. While the increase in foreign investment creates limitless opportunities for expansion within developing countries, the legal and regulatory frameworks governing working conditions differ radically from state to state, posing many new challenges for corporations, govern- ments, and communities. These challenges have drawn increased public scrutiny in recent years, particularly surrounding business activities in zones of conflict. 1 The revelations of corporate involvement in human rights abuses, from the highly publicized stories of Royal Dutch/Shell in Nigeria to those of British Petroleum in Colombia, have placed the philosophy of corporate governance under the spotlight and raised several questions as to the regulation of extraterritorial corporate conduct.
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