Trading and aiding human rights: Corporations in the global economy

Abstract

This article traces the interrelationship of human rights with business and considers the central role played by corporations in the global economy. In particular it examines three points of intersection between human rights and business: transnational commerce, trade and investment, and development aid. As the influence of corporations on the economic and political scene in many countries has increased in recent decades, international law has barely responded to this growing imbalance of power exposing an accountability gap within the broad global economy for corporate related human rights abuses. In outlining the key theoretical, practical and institutional features of the intersection with international human rights standards and the global economy, the paper stresses the growing importance of corporations in the field and the attendant international legal responsibilities and expectations that are now made of corporations in the quest to better protect and promote human rights. Evidently the impact of the global economy on human rights is extremely significant, even if, as yet, the same cannot be said in respect of the human rights impact on the global economy.

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