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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: July 2009

Human Rights, Arbitration, and Corporate Social Responsibility in the Law of International Trade



In the traditional legal discourse, the responsibility for ensuring that Transnational Corporations (hereinafter TNCs) respect human rights, as should any other business entity, is a matter for territorial State action at the domestic level and under international law. Today, economic globalisation regulation demands a multi-faceted and multi-layered network of rules that tend to be increasingly complex and sophisticated. Two extreme approaches dominate the literature on the matter: le droit de l'hommisme and total self-regulation of markets. The purpose of this chapter is to focus on the relationships between human rights, arbitration, and corporate social responsibility. The discussion centres on international commercial contracts, and not labour law issues, or the World Trade Organization (WTO), as they are addressed elsewhere in this book; instead, the chapter engages with models of international responsibility for human rights violationsby TNCs, which are also identified in this volume. Beyond models of international responsibility of the territorial State – be it the host or the home State of a TNC, of international liability of corporate directors and of TNCs, there are also emerging issues of responsibility for violations of human rights in the transnational arbitral process and, last but not least, in the field of corporate social responsibility.

An invisible red line seems to connect human rights protection, international arbitration and corporate social responsibility. Human rights issues are more and more important in arbitration, and they are the driving force underlying corporate social responsibility.