International Environmental Standards for Transnational Corporations

By Fowler, Robert J. | Environmental Law, Winter 1995 | Go to article overview

International Environmental Standards for Transnational Corporations


Fowler, Robert J., Environmental Law


"[W]ith the exception of a handful of nation-states, multinationals are alone in possessing the size, technology, and economic reach necessary to influence human affairs on a global basis."(1)

I. INTRODUCTION

By the early 1990s, there were almost 37,000 transnational corporations (TNCs) in the world,(2) and their influence on the global economy is enormous. In 1990, the worldwide outflow of foreign direct investment (FDI), which is a measure of the productive capacity of TNCs, totalled $234 billion.(3) In 1992, the stock of FDI had reached $2 trillion.(4) Parent TNCs have generated some 170,000 foreign affiliates, forty-one percent of which are located in developing countries.(5) Nevertheless, the reins remain firmly held in developed countries, where ninety percent of parent TNCs are headquartered.(6)

The growth in the number, size, and influence of TNCs has been a matter of international concern, particularly to developing countries, for over twenty years. The expansion of TNCs after the Second World War resulted from a number of factors, including spiralling labor costs in developed countries, the increasing importance of economies of scale, improved transportation and communication systems, and rising worldwide consumer demand for new products.(7) By the early 1970s, TNCs had begun to attract considerable interest and concern. Critics of TNCs have argued that their post-war expansion has become increasingly focused on the exploitation of the natural and human resources of developing countries.(8) Ethical issues arising from TNC activities include bribery and corruption, employment and personnel issues, marketing practices, impacts on the economy and development patterns of host countries, environmental and cultural impacts, and political relations with both host and home country governments.(9)

It is also frequently argued that TNCs have grown beyond the control of national governments and operate in a legal and moral vacuum "where individualism has free reign."(10) The notion of corporate nationality may become obsolete in a global economy.(11) The trend towards integrated international production and the resultant reorganization of TNC structures to establish "non-equity" arrangements which allow some control over foreign productive assets contribute to this situation.(12)

Despite the long-held concerns about ethical and other aspects of TNC activity, promotion of FDI has been a recent global political trend. A new international consensus was reached at the seventh United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in 1987 on "structural adjustment," in the form of privatization, deregulation, and liberalization of national economies in return for the easing of the debt burden on developing countries. This has paved the way for a substantial expansion in TNC activities, particularly in the developing world.(13) This expansion has been assisted by recent regional and global free trade agreements, the principal beneficiaries of which may be TNCs.(14)

One result of these initiatives has been a distinct shift away from earlier proposals for the regulation of TNCs. This is indicated most vividly by the United Nations, recent abandonment of its fifteen-year effort to produce a Code of Conduct for Transnational Corporations.(15) Recent policy initiatives at the international level concerning TNCs focus instead on developing guidelines to facilitate FDI,(16) with the principal issues being the development of standards for fair and equitable treatment, national treatment, and most favored nation treatment.(17)

Environmental matters are one exception to this trend. In this area, there appears to be a broad consensus that it is appropriate and desirable to develop standards to guide or direct TNC behavior.(18) A parallel and related recognition has emerged in free trade negotiations, where the proposed global agreement emerging from the Uruguay Round of GATT and regional agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have been recognized to require specific, additional measures concerning environmental, health, and safety matters. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

International Environmental Standards for Transnational Corporations
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.