The role of Multinational Corporations (MNCs) as “agents of development” in the contemporary global economy poses a big question despite their efforts in making international production outpace foreign trade as the basis for international economic  relations.  Apart from their substantial direct investment in foreign countries, these corporations or transnational business entities carry out some of the most horrific human rights abuses of modern times, but it is increasingly difficult to hold them to account. Economic globalisation and the rise of transnational corporate power have created a favourable climate for corporate human rights abusers, which are governed principally by the codes of demand and supply and show genuine loyalty only to their stockholders, not to those affected by their actions. Such companies may be larger than the economies of some of the states within which they operate, and can wield significant economic and political power. This study reviews the role and influences of the MNCs in the global economy vis-à-vis their human rights records in their host countries particularly in the Third World where they are culpable. It argues that, although, the legal and moral environment surrounding the action of governments is reasonably well developed, that surrounding multinational companies are both controversial and ill defined. Therefore, it maintains that the growing power of transnational corporations and their extension of power through privatisation, deregulation and the rolling back of the State also mean that it is now time to develop binding legal norms that hold corporations to human rights standards and circumscribe potential abuses of their position of power.

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Type: Document