Multinational Corporations and Human Rights

The United Nations wants more scrutiny of multinational corporations with respect to human rights.

In the resolution, the 26-member Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights calls for transnational corporations to be subject to monitoring by the United Nations so the organization can assess whether they are complying with international treaties governing human rights, labor and environmental practices.

"In an increasingly interdependent world, where poverty, disease, violence, crime, war, regional conflicts and human rights and environmental abuses persist," the statement reads, "clear international standards will help ensure that business will be part of the solution to today's problems and not — knowingly or unknowingly — exacerbate them"

I have ambivalent feelings about this. On the one hand, I don't want to see US and European corporations exploit workers in less developed countries. But, I also don't want to see more hoops for them to jump through to get stuff done. If the U.N. monitoring is hands off, I think it is a good thing. Some companies will probably trumpet their good human rights ratings as a marketing tactic. If this creates another level of red tape, it will only hurt underdeveloped countries who need the jobs but must wait for companies to complete U.N. paperwork and inspections before they can open plants and offices.

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