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[afro-nets] Food for a thought whose time has come (2)
- From: "George Kent" <email@example.com>
- Date: Mon, 25 Sep 2006 15:19:17 +0700
Food for a thought whose time has come (2)
The Reader before the last raised hugely important issues. Can anyone "make" international organizations and corporations into bona-fide duty bearers? What does that mean?
Under current international human rights law, states become the primary duty bearers through own consent, as signified by their ratification of international treaties. They still retain considerable latitude for interpretation, so the duties are not very precisely specified. Moreover, the means for calling them to account are weak.
There is no systematic procedure for obtaining the agreement of international organizations or corporations that they will bear particular obligations. What then is to "make" them into duty bearers? Who will call them to account?
Under the conventional understanding of the nation-state system, we used to have the idea that corporations would be licensed by states and thus would be subject to governance by states. As we know, reality is that many of them are by now quite literally out of control.
There is no established mechanism for calling international organizations to account except through their directors. In practice, they often act with impunity, as if they were wholly autonomous.
The problem is one of global governance. The nation-state system that served reasonably well since the middle of the 17th century is now incapable of dealing with issues that are of global dimensions. We have to invent a new global order that is adequate to meet the needs of the 21st century.
The pertinent para of that Reader read:
11. But it has proven difficult to make international organizations and corporations bona-fide duty bearers (DBs) so as to hold them accountable for not respecting human rights. For this, voluntary guidelines for their behavior are useful, but only as an intermediate step on the way to juticiability. (e.g., FAO Voluntary Guidelines for the Right to Adequate Food and Nutrition, 2005) Being able to hold them legally accountable will be useful, because the HRBA specifically zeros-in on the actions or inactions of bona-fide DBs. (S. Maxwell) This then gives us the recourse to demand these DBs rectify their shortcomings and come up with the needed remedies for HR violations and with the needed reparations for its victims. But so far, we have had little political success in our efforts to get the HRBA accepted and applied by these organizations and corporations. A challenge here.
Professor George Kent
Department of Political Science
University of Hawai'i
Honolulu, Hawai'i 96822
Phone: +1 808 396-9422
Cell: +1 808 389-9422