Corporations and human rights in a globalised economy: Some implications for the discipline of corporate law

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australian Journal of Corporate Law, 2016, 31 (1), pp. 3 - 46
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The argument made here is for a global perspective on corporate law in teaching and research in the wake of globalisation. Economic activity is now global in character. A new governance regime has emerged in response to globalisation’s subversion of state sovereignty, a web of polycentric transnational regulation of business with overlapping bodies of norms — public (international law and domestic corporate law), civil regulation and corporate governance systems — regulating the conduct of enterprises and their business relationships. Two distinct systems of transnational civil regulation are evident, the corporate social responsibility movement and UN initiatives to bring business into the international human rights framework through norms of responsibility to respect human rights. The article examines the tension between the state duty under international law to enable corporate respect for human rights and several core corporate law doctrines that pose obstacles to that responsibility. The article concludes by considering some implications of these developments for lawyers, law students and their professors.
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