Whats behind the window dressing? : legal ways of enforcing multtional corporations human rights codes of conduct

Thumbnail Image
Mancewicz, Andrzej
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The present paper is based on a hypothesis that private, internal codes of conduct, which comprise human rights commitments on behalf of various multinational corporations, although on the face only voluntary and non-binding, may have a legal value and, under certain conditions and circumstances, can be judicially enforced. The thesis inquires into the conditions of such judicial use of corporate codes, indicating three main possibilities of conferring the codes a legal relevance: first, in the light of false or misleading advertising laws; second, under contract laws, allowing for their enforcement by the companies themselves as well as against the companies by various groups of stakeholders; and third, the inclusion of corporate codes of conduct in court-approved litigation settlement agreements. In order to demonstrate the practical utility of those three concepts, the thesis is adequately founded on three main substantive chapters (3-5), each comprising: a description of the concept, a case-study of a landmark judicial case, a "lessons learned" part where the advantages, conditions and warnings are described, and a brief conclusion. The thesis begins by an introduction into the background and relevance of the phenomenon of codes of conduct for multinational corporations, followed by a delimitation of the scope of the research and a review of pertinent viewpoints in the literature. It ends with some conclusions on the future use of corporate codes for furthering human rights, points out to some deficiencies of the concept and stresses the need for stringent, "hard-law" business practices regulation.
Second semester University: University of Helsinki.
business corporations, business conduct, consumer rights, business ethics, transnational corporations