Corporations at the United Nations: Echoes of the New International Economic Order?
- Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development
- University of Pennsylvania Press
- Volume 6, Number 1, Spring 2015
- pp. 159-171
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This article traces the history of the UN Code of Conduct on Transnational Corporations as a way to index the shifting geopolitical and economic landscape on which the NIEO played out. By the time the Code of Conduct was abandoned in 1992, concerns about the role of multinationals in the development process had been replaced by debates regarding its responsibility for promoting human rights. In 2003, a Sub-Commission of the UN Commission (now Council) on Human Rights proposed what might be regarded as a new code of conduct: the Draft Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights. Comparing the Draft Norms to the NIEO-era Code of Conduct illuminates a dramatic transformation in the development imaginary; The Draft Norms sought to limit corporate power, but within a broader human rights framework centered on the individual rights-bearer, whereas the Code of Conduct, and the larger NIEO project, was geared towards the realization of what the G-77 understood as a collective right to development, vested in the state.