Corporate Social Responsibility or UN Corporate Governance?

Global Governance Watch

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Recently, UN officials have begun using a human rights agenda to govern the activities of corporations throughout the world. The latest UN effort involves the promotion of an ambiguous “right to health” and its related access to medicines. The UN effort to globally govern pharmaceutical companies is being led by Paul Hunt, the UN Special Rapporteur on the “right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.”  On September 19, 2007, Mr. Hunt published draft Human Rights Guidelines for Pharmaceutical Companies in relation to Access to Medicines. The Draft Guidelines set forth a human rights regimen designed to pressure pharmaceutical companies to embrace a “right to health” the scope of which has never been established in international law.   The Draft Guidelines call for:

  • The adoption of corporate mission statements that expressly recognize and implement the “right to health;”
  • The use by corporations of “human rights impact assessments” when formulating and implementing their corporate strategies, policies, programs, projects, and activities;
  • The adoption of a governance system that makes Board members directly responsible and accountable for the corporation’s “access to medicines strategy”; and
  • The dilution of corporate intellectual property rights relating to medicines;

Panelists include:

  • Mr. John Gardner, Former General Counsel, USAID
  • Mr. James P. Kelly III, Chairman, Social and Human Sciences Committee, U.S. National Commission for UNESCO