1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Visible Hands: Taking Responsibility for Social Development

Programme Area: Special Events (2000 - 2009)
Project Title: Geneva 2000: The Next Step in Social Development
No. of Pages: 190

From Chapter 5: Calling Corporations to Account...

The huge and growing social impact of transnational corporations requires that they take corresponding responsibility. While they would prefer to comply through voluntary initiatives, the public interest can only be fully served through stronger regulation and monitoring.

Until recently, transnational corporations (TNCs) seemed to be little concerned with social development. Governments, NGOs and international development agencies took the prime responsibility for social issues, while TNCs operated mainly in the economic arena. Corporations always had a social impact of course, at best generating employment, income and community services, at worst disregarding labour standards and the communities in which they operated. But they were rarely called on to have explicit social policies.

Much of that has changed. Today, TNCs find themselves embroiled in many of the most vexed social issues, from global warming to child labour to genetically modified foods. Indeed, almost every international development issue is assumed now to have a corporate dimension.

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