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Environmental Degradation and Human Rights Violation: A Cursory Overview of the Potential of the Existing Frameworks to Hold Multinational Corporations Accountable


  • Emmanuel Sarpong Owusu Aberystwyth University



Environmental Degradation, Extraterritorial Jurisdiction, Human Rights Abuse, Multinational Corporations, Regulatory Frameworks


It has been reported that an estimated 100,000 multinational corporations (MNCs) account for about a quarter of the global gross domestic product (GDP), generating a turnover which exceeds, by leaps and bounds, the public budget of many countries. Unfortunately, the manner of operation of the ever-expanding MNCs appears to engender rampant environmental degradation and wanton human rights violations in host nations. Even though frameworks aiming to regulate the activities of these corporations are in place, the effectiveness of the said regulatory mechanisms has been vociferously challenged, time and again, by academics and experts across the globe. Drawing on a range of pertinent case law as well as secondary sources, this article attempts to critically explore, and navigate, the extent to which the existing regulatory frameworks have been effective in holding MNCs accountable for their environment and human rights-related transgressions. The article establishes that the extant regulatory mechanisms have, to some extent, however miniscule, helped to promulgate awareness and inculcate environmental and human rights issues into corporate culture. It, however, demonstrates that these frameworks are grossly inadequate owing to the complex nature of the MNCs, the overtly broad and obscure nature of the existing international instruments and the reeking corruption in domestic political and judicial institutions. It recommends the codification of binding documents, backed by adequate compliance mechanisms, and the creation of an International Court having special jurisdiction over all MNCs.