Mohammad Belayet Hossain
Lecturer, School of Law,
Chittagong Independent University of Bangladesh
Economic supremacy is the foremost feature of the current world and foreign direct investment (FDI) is a potent weapon of economic development, especially in the current global context. Economic development for the Least Developed Countries (LDC) is largely dependent on FDI, which remained negligible until 1993 but subsequently, FDI has experienced a high annual growth over the past years. The notion of corporate responsibility includes human rights issues in the LDCs, for examples – ignoring the exploitation of child and women labour, paying extremely low rates of wages to the local work force, ignoring health and safety standards at work, degrading the environment, meddling in other affairs of the host state. Indeed, there have been documented cases of MNEs, for example – paying wage rates close to the poverty line in countries such as Bangladesh and ignoring the ILO conventions. The systemic failure of government protection of human rights and lack of respect towards workers’ right allows incident like Rana Plaza to continue to happen. Beyond the famously low wages, unsafe working conditions, restrictions, and repression of labour unions plague the industry. The state has a duty to protect its citizen against human rights abuses by the MNEs through regulation, policy making, investigation and enforcement. However, policymakers are also part of this profit-making business and are strong protectors of corruption mechanisms. Today, there is nothing but false promises and dirty politics from all parties. When the state itself protects the oppressors and limits access to judicial, administrative, or legislative protection and corporate responsibility, prevention of any infringement of rights remains a dream for many of the victims of serious and systemic human rights violations. This article will discuss some of the issues associated with the notion of corporate responsibility with special reference to the issue of human rights, such as – explaining how the notion of corporate responsibility has evolved in the context of the regulation of foreign investment in international law and discuss the interrelationship between human rights and corporate responsibility.
Keywords: Corporate responsibility, multinational enterprises, human rights, foreign investment, ILO