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Multi-National Corporations and their Human Rights Obligations –A Legal Assessment of Ruggie Principles and other the UN Initiatives


Failure of creating a direct human rights obligation for the conduct of Multi-National Corporation is one of the pressing global issues of the 21st century. It has further intensified the influential role of MNCs across the globe. Although regulation of private entities has been recognized concerning war crimes, crimes against humanity, and forced labor but, there is no legal obligation for private entities to be accountable for human rights violations that they are involved in. Nonetheless, under the auspicious of United Nations Organizations few initiatives have been taken to regulate the activities of MNCs concerning their effects on human rights. The Code of Conduct for Transnational Corporations, the UN Global Compact, Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights and Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights (hereinafter Ruggie Principles) are significant in this regard. However, neither any such standards nor the Guiding Principles which is considered as the most authoritative statement of human rights duties of MNCs identify or emphasize direct human rights obligations of MNCs. They merely impose the indirect obligation of MNCs to respect, protect, and remedy human rights. Hence, the purpose of this paper is to assess the legal effects of the obligations created by these UN initiatives focusing more on Guiding Principles. This is normative research based on international legal instruments on human rights. The paper will argue that imposing due diligence on MNCs as a standard of conduct does not maintain a legal duty but, rather help to escape their responsibility. In conclusion, the paper will suggest to have a legally binding framework to regulate MNCs to protect, respect and remedy human rights for direct human rights obligation.

Keywords: Human Rights, Direct Obligation, Indirect Obligation, Ruggie Principles, Due Diligence