Multinational Enterprises’ Effect on Global Human Rights

Human Rights, as important as it is to , other countries sacrifice this protection in the name of profit, survival and greed. Taking advantage of the desperate is beyond a temptation in many developing countries, for them it is the norm. Amnesty International is a multinational organization campaigning to create public awareness and stop the abuse of human rights violations. AI is soliciting the cooperation of multinational enterprises (MNE) to implement human rights practices in their organization and influence governments to enforce this right to their citizens.

Because the advantages of MNEs in developing countries ensures much needed investments and employment opportunities, governments are willing to “close their eyes” to human rights violations. Citizens of these countries are also willing to endure the abuse in exchange for better living conditions and a hopeful future. Although this challenge is far from being accomplished, initiatives, regulations and awareness efforts have been made by influential governments, international business organizations and almost 50 transnational companies involving various sectors to further the protection and restoration of human rights.

AI’s two fold mission for MNEs is to practice human rights policies not only with their employees, but to all parties affected by the company’s actions and to promote human rights protection through public endorsements, government support and creating awareness. Through research and action, AI has exposed actual instances of human rights abuse which has attracted key people and organizations, created public awareness and has brought a special call to action for MNE’s.

AI knows the prevailing influence MNE’s have over the protection of human rights and it is electing them to use that power to take a stand against human rights abuse for all humans. Multinational Enterprise and its effect on Human Rights Today Now, in 2008, human rights violations have become a familiar issue with many Americans and the rest of the world. Hollywood uses its influence in films like Blood Diamond to create awareness of human rights violations behind priceless diamonds. Americans are becoming outraged and boycotting products that violate child labor laws.

People are considering more than just the product but also what the companies stand for and where their money is going. Because information is more readily available to everyone now than it might have been in 2002, changes to defend human rights have reached individuals and they are willing to take a stand on it. With more people using the internet, it doesn’t take much effort to see what is happening in the world. Popular videos on You Tube, breaking news on Yahoo and forwarded emails can easily expose your cause to millions of individuals instantly.

Photos from the war in Iraq created a huge stir in the conscience of many Americans so unaware of such degrading treatment. This kind of exposure has led people to protest against war, boycott products and arouse compassion and responsibility to individuals, large businesses and governments. Child labor in the non-Western World Child labor, though completely unthinkable in our American society may be a means of survival to families in developing or third world countries.

Families in some countries cannot depend on their government, charities or their own abilities to provide basic needs; their only hope is the strength of their children. My views are sad but realistic. Yes, every person should have the opportunity to succeed in life and education is definitely a means to get you there but in reality there are people in this world, especially in the non-Western world, who struggle daily just to feed their family just one only meal a day. They live literally in shacks and have no running water or electricity.

If soliciting the help of their children will support them in meeting basic needs, then that’s what they will have to do until there is a better solution. But this is not so say that physical abuse, degradation and inhumane treatment is acceptable. There is no situation for this behavior to ever be tolerated. I believe it is the government’s intention to protect their citizens, through laws and investigations, but that protection may be just an illusion to many victims of child labor abuse. According to the article “Combating Child Labor in the Philippines” written in Oct 2002,

Because each country’s economic and cultural situation is unique, it would be difficult to establish specific global rules. A comprehensive approach is needed because a child’s withdrawal from work must be accompanied by supportive measures for the child and family. Before we can begin creating international policies in child labor, we need to consider the root of the problem. That is to solve the severe poverty of many nations which is forcing families to submit their children to bad working conditions.

General policies that seem to have been adapted by some governments are established to create a sense of caring but if that were really true, we wouldn’t have so many child labor issues today. Special Global Rules for Multinationals Special Global Rules for multinationals employment practices would be a significant move in the direction to protect human rights. Since MNE’s have strong influences on third world governments, they could be used as ambassadors of human rights protection.

Special rules to prevent them from abusing employees, providing fair wages and securing a safe and healthy work place is needed establish standards for these MNEs. Hopefully, local businesses will catch on to their business practices and follow, eventually minimizing poor working conditions in the country. Current Efforts of Transnational Companies to Promote Ethical Global Employment For ethical global employment and marketing rules for multinationals to be adopted by all MNEs, existing transnational corporations must be the first to adopt these policies to exemplify its success to an organization.

In the Philippines, many transnational companies have set base there because labor is so inexpensive compared to the company’s home nation. The call center industry is benefitting from the country’s educated, English speaking talents and low wage requirements. But transnational corporations like HSBC, JP Morgan and Citibank have kept superior ethical standards by providing high salaries, medical benefits and a high standard of operation. According to an article in Select Philippines.

com in Aug 2005, “JP Morgan is committed to providing equal opportunity and affirmative action. ” According to its employment website, HSBC offers an attractive benefit package to its Filipino employees: We offer excellent career development opportunities, premium pay for international call center experience, performance incentives, with a competitive compensation & benefits package including life & health insurance, 20 percent night differential, & meal allowance.

With more transnational corporations providing the same work environment, human rights violations will minimize. Competition alone will compel the new organization to at least meet the same standards. Multinational Enterprises can be influential to both governments of developing countries and other MNEs. They need to realize this influence and use it to ensure preservation of human rights for all people.

References

Asian Development Bank. (2002, October 15). Combating Child Labor in the Philippines Retrieved October 25, 2008, from http://www. adb. org/Documents/Events/2002 /SocialProtection/sardana_paper. pdf Select Philippines. (2005, August 9). JP Morgan to create more call center jobs in the Philippines Retrieved on October 25, 2008 from http://www. selectphilippines. com /JP_Morgan. html Call Center Philippines. (2008, March 27). HSBC EDP, Makati Retrieved on October 25, 2008 from http://www. callcenterphilippines. net/call-centers-list/makati/hsbc-edp-makati. html