Magazine article UN Chronicle

Environmental Issues, Code of Conduct, Discussed in TNCs Commission

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Environmental Issues, Code of Conduct, Discussed in TNCs Commission

Article excerpt

Environmental issues, code of conduct, discussed in TNCs Commission

Issues relating to the environment, a code of conduct and business operations in South Africa were the major focus of the sixteenth session (New York, 2-12 April) of the Commission on Transnational Corporations (TNCs).

The Commission also discussed recent developments concerning international economic relations and strengthening the negotiating capacity of developing countries in their dealings with TNCs, as well as activities of the UN Centre on TNCs, international standards of accounting and reporting and the role of TNCs in services, including transborder data flows.

The positive change in the perception of foreign direct investment and the role of TNCs in world development, evident in recent years, were again reflected at the session. A principal concern was the declining share in world wide investment inflows of developing countries.

Commission Chairman Marek Kulczycki of Poland said TNCs had become "a lasting and dynamic element of modern economic relations".

Antoine Blanca, Director-General for Development and International Economic Co-operation, said technological progress, structural adjustment programmes in developing countries and the dramatic changes in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union were leading to greater reliance on market forces and closer interrelationships in the world economy, thus strengthening global interdependence. TNCs now had the potential to play a more significant role in promoting global economic integration and increasing trade and transfers of capital, technology and managerial expertise.

Peter Hansen, Executive Director of the Centre on TNCs, said that for many developing countries "the 1983s represent a lost decade". With much of the world's attention and resources now focused on Europe, "there is a real danger that the problems of developing countries will not receive the scrutiny they deserve", he said.

Commission action

The 45-member body recommended that a comprehensive study be prepared for the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, focusing primarily on how TNCs could provide access to an transfer environmentally sound technologies to developing countries on a concessional and preferential basis.

Also proposed was the creation of an environment fund financed by TNCs. A report on TNCs and the environment was considered. The role of TNCs in sustainable development with particular reference to climate change was explored, as was progress in the area of environmental protection in developing countries.

A set of criteria to strengthen the participation of TNCs in environmental protection was put forward. A report on UN involvement in reviewing hazardous technologies and safer alternatives, including compiling a directory on the subject, was examined.

A number of reports was recommended on issues ranging from the role of transnational banks in reducing the external debt of developing countries to the promotion of foreign direct investment in developing countries. …

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