Human Rights and Multinational Companies. Human rights are globally defined as fundamental values aimed at ensuring the dignity and justice for all citizens. Laws on International Human rights contain almost all globally approved standards, as per the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) since its inception in 1948. It was further reinforced by the authentication from all the 171 countries that participated at the global meeting called for finalizing stands relating to Human Rights in Vienna in 1993.
Most of the leading multinational corporations are not reluctant in infringing human rights and care for the well being of the workers. Since the global free trade market persist to move forward the global financial system, top rated Multi National Companies responsible for their inferior Human resources strategies becomes tricky. Regrettably, Big companies in the Global scenario are trying harder always to cover up the unhealthy HR practices rather than putting in efforts to prevent them.
Corporate Human Rights Violation is Often Silent
The end users are mostly not aware of the serious Human Rights infringement, that the corporations are involved in. People also argue that they can do little to prevent global companies from abstaining from this practice. The reality is that there is much the end users can do. People can utilize their buying power to ensure fair deal practices and pressurize organizations by boycotting products and services from those organizations that infringe human rights and the global environment. While doing so there is a chance to mount strain upon such organizations to position its workforce ahead of financial profits.
The current global structure of corporate human rights accountability for the corporate world is not sufficient since it does not provide transparent standards of human rights. These laws are built upon defective grounds and they rely exceptionally on nations to enforce responsibility, and provide no penalties for non-observance. There is, hence, a need to institute a sturdy global system for regulating global HR practices as well as re conceptualize the basic philosophy and style of global laws especially in relation with multinational companies and their supply chains. There is a collective argument that the proposed global mechanism needs to be built upon an affiliation between the United Nations and the World Trade Organization for the endorsement of global human rights in the present day world economic order.
International Law and Human Rights Violation
The association, with efficient backing from other global organizations, the press and NGOs, would both stipulate and implement human rights values against MNCs. Bringing human rights problems inside the purview of the Trade Organization, both at the level of conciliation and of argument settlement, would not only support control MNCs but would additionally offer sustainability and global participation to the emerging economic scenario.
Nevertheless, it is also significant that the current international law dispose of its roundabout attitude to handle MNCs and recognizes them as “secondary limited” entities, in the slightest way possible, about concerns on human rights of laborers. MNCs needs to fall straight under the legal authority of global regulatory organizations, since the intervention of indirect checking mechanisms has been unsuccessful in delivering the preferred outcomes.
Considerations for Profit over its Manpower by MNCs
Since the world got globalized and got confined into a global village, the multinational companies are also brought under stricter analysis, as doubts about their responsibility increased on a global level.
In many of the cases, certain corporations got involved in lobbying their respective governments to predominantly support governments that are sympathetic to them. For example, specifically in the early1970s and the late 80s, some strategically protected totalitarian regimes as they were able to manage their own citizens, were more flexibly prejudiced and despoiled, permit situations like inexpensive labor, sweatshops, and similar services. Such sort of practices are less possible today as an organizations brand image with such disputed relations can more easily be flawed in today’s world. However such implications are now extended using strategic lobbying for universal financial and business preparations.
This can be however be gained through different means which include:
- Judiciously promoting military interference (often mocked in misinformation regarding protecting the citizens from themselves, or clearing a wrong practice in another nation)
- approaching for economic plans that are increasingly inclined for their goodwill
- Overseas investment agreements and other discussions structured in part to offer more abilities for organizations to grow into other financially inferior nations possibly at the expenditure of domestic businesses.
- Accepting a philosophy which is considered to be useful to all, but conceals the realities and complications that may make it difficult to offer test examples. These philosophies can be determining as some bigger organizations may in fact get results from these approaches, but that approach does not naturally means that everybody accepts that, and such concepts may find these plans being moved forth more.
However, with this growth and struggle for enhanced profits, many a times, a disregard is observed while addressing human rights of the work force. In many cases, companies have been charged for hiring regional army to overpower and even execute people who protest against the actions and doings of these organizations, such as the numerous arguments over multinational oil companies and natural resource and mineral mining MNCs in regions of Africa have highlighted.
Globalization as a Trigger to Violation of Human Rights
As the concept of globalization got prominent in the last two decades, so have the criticisms against its human rights issues. Whether such MNCs consider their profit figures over their work force as a main factor is an important topic for debate. Many top rated companies and their supply chains around the globe are actively involved in violations of human rights, or major tax escaping.
The stress to struggle in the global market has frequently meant combating adjacent to social clauses and strategies that may end up causing more expense for the organization where some other organization may not be focused to be central to the same margins. The panic of failing out in business rivalry thus pushes many organizations to lessen their general denominator rather than the comparatively superior one. (Multinational Corporations: Making Dollars (and Sense) Showing Respect for Environmental, 2015) And hence there is a descending sort of stress on worker’s salary and their working circumstances since they are such most important costs for most operations.
Recently, it has been identified that many multinational companies promote the shaping of export processing zones and special economic zones in under developed and developing nations, which results in being places where the worker’s basic rights are inferred or even infringed. This helps in playing off countries with each other by employing under paid employees with little rights. If any organization puts in efforts to enhance the work environment or living standards for the worker in some way, the organization can terrorize to shift operations to another area in yet another country. It is also evident that certain developing economies like China also take advantage from this system as it provides them additional edge in global export markets, especially in the knowledge industry and in the area of manufactured goods.
Effective lobbying strategies at international venues like the World Trade Organization also offers them visualize more encouraging situations and the organizations with more fund can exert more authority, thus generating an unfair business scenario, as against to the one which they openly fight for.
Constructive Engagement Strategies
Some multinational corporations and major business players argue that their measures can rally be positive. The concept of “constructive engagement” offers space for the broadening of democratic views, technology growth, human rights safeguarding in different regions of the world.
Economic Power creates real Political Power
Even though the constrain for productivity is forever a superior thing, since it always helps in maximum utilization of available resources; many a times, the objective of observance of these costs down also guide to dipping wages, poor working environment and often infringement of the primary rights of workers.
This happens because most of the corporations and in many cases some countries look for regions where substandard labor laws can be made advantage of in an unethical way, or by not obliging or even fighting against global or regional institutions and regulatory authorities that could support to guarantee fairness for the workers.
To establish this argument further, we can evaluate the example of the unlawful drug or tobacco industry. Just like other business firms, they too need to function competently and reduce unwanted expenditures. Whatever be the case, it is a fact that, their impact on the world is unconstructive in every sense.
Similarly, other industries, like the automobile, health based businesses, hospitality industry and many other spectrums of businesses have various overheads that they frequently try to control and regulate. Improving their efficiency might not be translated as general well being of the public in the case of all business ventures. Profitability may be achieved at the cost of infringed human rights of the employees.
Health and Safety – A Big Concern
Garment manufacturing units are enormous business in Bangladesh, which is thought to be behind only to China in textile and garment exports to the west. The Garment exports from Bangladesh estimated to be over $19 billion on an annual basis and this accounts for more than eighty percent of the nation’s consolidated exports revenue and almost equal to 17 per cent of the nation’s consolidated economic output. The magnitude and prominence of the Garment industry in Bangladesh is such that the government considers the industry with special care and goodwill, being the main export industry.
The nation tries to gratify the big Multinational companies in the west so that the nation’s industry gets good exposure to the west and thus more orders. The government also liberalized their export norms. The government subsequently fell prey to the increasing demands of the corporate houses. The industry currently avails tax-free imports of raw materials and subsidized tax rates.
A massive fire which happened in one of the major manufacturing units in Bangladesh a few years back killed almost 112 people, and it has been reported that the death toll of such loss of lives since 2006 accounts to over 500 people. The government has always been gracious to the influential manufacturing unit owners of the garment industry, many of whom are believed to be the members of Bangladesh Parliament. It is not unlikely that a proprietor of a major garment unit might whine to ‘top authorities’ that his global business might be affected as a result of an enthusiastic fire examiner looking forward to put into effect, the new rules and regulations.
The working atmosphere at this manufacturing unit was also believed to be sub standard as per reports. The location of the factory was inaccessible even to the rescue operators. The doors of the workplace were said to be closed during working hours, thus not permitting easy way out of the workers during the time of emergency. The unit was there was overcrowded with more people than allowed, the power connections and wiring was not as per regulations, and some part of the building was even unauthorized.
Media around the globe published photographs of a piece of garment which carried a label showing that the piece of garment was being manufactured for the Walmart. The indirect allegation was that Walmart, a globally recognized MNC was exploiting people in a poor nation for inflating their gross revenue. However, this cannot be considered as an independent case in a remote village of a third world nation. Similar infringement of human rights happens everywhere and even in sophisticated production house of the world’s most valued brands.
CSR – The New Mantra
Corporate Social Responsibility has now become a mantra in the business world. There is a counter argument that big corporations are spending enormous amount for the society, its workforce and the environment. The forbes recently released a list of 10 top corporate houses involved in CSR projects and Microsoft tops the list. As per to the eighteenth-century ethical and moral philosopher and thinker, Immanuel Kant, the base of ethics and morality is the capability of human beings to perform rationally. As per Kant, Truth is correct and lie is immoral. It is universal always and is an invariable entity. Hence, our obligation is at all times to acquaint with the real truth. An added responsibility as per Kant is to be compassionate, so we should never purposely cause harm to another. In the present day corporate world, Kant’s principles have extremely high value in terms of its content and significance.