Do corporations have human rights obligations? (“Have You Got That Right?” Season 2, Ep. 3)


Are you gonna pick that up? I’m incorporated. What are you doing? This water is privatised, $2 per drink. You can’t just do things like this! Yes I can… … I’m incorporated and now it’s $3.50. What! Corporations help to create jobs and wealth but like any entity they can harm human rights for example they can hurt the rights of
workers through exploitation of consumers through un-safe products of local community through toxic factories and mines. So, are corporations accountable if
they breach human rights? Under international human rights law
corporations have few, if any, direct obligations Instead governments must protect us from corporate human rights breaches. Primarily by passing laws and enforcing them. But some corporations, particularly the
largest multinationals, are very powerful and some governments are corruptible or weak or under-developed. And they might turn a blind eye or even collude with abusive businesses. Certainly, many companies have very good human rights practices and civil society can hold business to
account through actions like consumer boycotts. But many argue that we need a new human rights treaty to directly bind corporations. And these arguments won’t stop until governments consistently hold business to account when they breach human rights Excuse me sir you’re jeopardizing public health and
the government won’t allow it. ahh… I’m incorporated! [Corporation laughs] Don’t let him bully you! I’m organizing a boycott. Sorry the government is cancelling its contract with you. You might want to use that money for a lawyer. [Corporation laughs nervously] Whatever! in

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