Rebecca M.M. Wallace: Professor of International Human Rights Aberdeen Business School Robert Gordon University Aberdeen
High profile cases such as Bhopal and Unocal attract extensive international media attention. Pictures of sweat shops and accusations of child labour have permeated the person in the street's consciousness via television and the press. In the wake of such have come calls demanding corporate social responsibility while the consumer is regaled with Fair Trade banners. The impact which multi national companies may make on everyday life is underscored by such instances and responses.
The topography of the international scene has changed markedly over the last fifty years and the economic power wielded by many a multi national company rivals and exceeds that of many a state. Increased economic power provides a political bargaining tool which gives the multi national companies an advantage in national and international negotiating fora. Increased public scrutiny has led to the realisation that multi nationals can not just act without any regard to the consequences. Human rights have now been accorded a place as of right on the business agenda. Twenty first century society has an expectation as to how multi national companies should act towards the environment and human right.
Having acknowledged multi nationals have a responsibility many from academia, business, civil society and industry are engaged in the task of addressing inter alia the development of concrete, achievable human rights standards and the mechanisms whereby multi national companies may be held accountable for the non-attainment of such standards.
The international legal framework, although recognising human rights obligations, for the most part addresses these obligations to states and states are responsible for their non-fulfilment. These issues are now the subject of much academic debate. It is into this debate that Dr Olga Martin-Ortega has stepped with this work.
Dr Martin-Ortega has, in a clear and systematic manner, addressed relevant issues with academic rigour. She provides an exemplary survey of the position as it is currently but then, and this is what makes this work so refreshing and innovative she proceeds to identify...