Recent years have seen a growing movement toward externally imposed regulations directed specifically at improving TNCs' environmental and social performance. This movement draws on a long history, and its most recent incarnation is largely a reaction to disappointment on the part of many with the results of private voluntary initiatives among global firms. A number of international level initiatives have emerged, including the UN's Global Compact and the inclusion of an environment chapter in the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Because these efforts, while externally driven, are voluntary on the part of firms, there have been growing calls for a binding international treaty on corporate accountability. Industry has been extremely resistant to this idea. Many see such a treaty as vital for developing countries, as it could bolster their ability and willingness to monitor and enforce environmental regulations. This is especially important in the Global South, as these countries have seen the bulk of the negative environmental impacts of TNCs in recent decades.

This content is only available as a PDF.

Author notes

I would like to thank Sam Grey and Kate Turner for research assistance, and the Social Science and Humanities Council of Canada for research support. I would also like to thank the anonymous reviewer of this paper.