“Corporate Accountability” as defined in an NGO-statement submitted to the United Nations in 1997 refers to “the legal obligation of a company to do the right thing. The aim of corporate accountability is to be sure a company’s products and operations are in the interests of society and not harmful.” Corporate accountability is especially relevant to the current situation of increasing economic globalization. Transnational Corporations (TNCs) are the directory protagonists and beneficiaries of globalisation but their activities often have detrimental environmental and social impacts. Therefore, there is a need of national and international instruments to ensure that the activities of TNCs are consistent with the goals of sustainable development.
Corporations and governments responded to the widely recognised negative impacts of corporate behaviour through the development of hundreds of sectoral and company codes of conduct and voluntary initiatives, e.g. the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. In the lead-up to the Johannesburg Summit for Sustainable Development 2002 an international campaign of NGOs and civil society groups called upon governments to go beyond these voluntary approaches and establish a legally binding framework convention on corporate accountability. In chapter V of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation governments responded to these demands and decided to actively promote corporate responsibility and accountability through, inter alia, the full development and effective implementation of intergovernmental agreements and measures, international initiatives, and appropriate national regulations. This decision constitutes an important step forward, which has to be concretised and implemented now.
This Website aims to facilitate the flow of information among NGOs and social movements who believe their governments, private sector and civil society need to make greater efforts to ensure the accountability of business and industry, especially Transnational Corporations, to society. It contains information about ongoing civil society campaigns on corporate accountability and about NGOs and trade unions who are active in this field. It provides comprehensive material on codes of conduct, multi-stakeholder initiatives and intergovernmental processes, as well as best and worst practice cases of corporate behaviour. Finally, this site makes available documents and publications on corporate accountability and links to relevant research institutes and databases. We hope this website will be a useful supplement to the existing sites on corporate accountability. Feedback and suggestions are highly appreciated.