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Corporate Conduct


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California Global Corporate
Accountability Project

Forging New Links: Promoting and Protecting
Human Rights and the Environment

January 14, 1999 Roundtable
San Francisco, CA

Monitoring, Evaluating and Reforming Corporate Conduct

Part two of the roundtable focused on tools for reforming corporate practices and how they could be made more viable.

One of the largest challenges in the field of human rights and the environment is the evaluation of corporate behavior, including so-called "self-regulation" in the form of voluntary initiatives and codes of conduct. Citizen activists often lack information crucial to their monitoring of corporate practices, particularly to determine the credibility of corporate claims about "best practice." There is a dearth of data on the identity of the worst corporate actors and practices on the one hand, and on the other, the best corporate models. Moreover, a lack of integrated vision of the links between environmental and human rights issues has reduced the effectiveness of citizens groups which tend to focus on one or the other issue.

To integrate human rights and environment concerns in an overall corporate accountability campaign, it is crucial to identify the set of concerns among the environmental, human rights and corporate communities, and develop a set of "criteria" for evaluating corporate claims and performance. To date, there is little consensus on such criteria. Yet, developing this evaluative tool could enhance the capability of citizen groups and officials to measure corporate performance in fulfilling environmental and human rights responsibilities. One concern is that relatively few fora exist to bring human rights and environmental advocates together for dialogue.

Over the past several years, various methods and criteria for evaluation have been proposed and debated. These have occurred in international fora, including the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and among non-governmental organizations in the human rights, religious and environmental communities. The appendix contains additional materials on this subject for consideration.

Natural Heritage Institute   Human Rights Advocates   The Nautilus Institute