• Corporate Social Responsibility and International Law

    by Thilani Gamage Globalisation has assured the presence of corporations in different jurisdictions and cultures and the proponents of globalisation highlight the benefits gained from foreign investment, better employment opportunities, higher wages, economic growth and transfer of technology to the states hosting Multi National Corporations (MNCs). MNCs could operate in different locations and jurisdictions in the form of wholly owned subsidiaries, agents, joint ventures or other partnerships with local companies, supply-chain relationships with contractors and suppliers of goods and services.” The OECD guidelines contemplate on a wide definition of a multinational corporation: “These usually comprise companies or other entities established in more than one country and so linked that they may co-ordinate their operations in various ways. While one or more of these entities may be able to exercise a significant influence over the activities of others, their degree of autonomy within the enterprise may vary widely from one multinational enterprise to another. Ownership may be private, state or mixed.”  Many of the MNCs may have headquarters in one country, shareholders in another and operations worldwide. Parallel to the advantageous of globalisation and the rise of MNCs, the latter has gained extensive economic, social and political power, often surpassing those of the governments in weak economies. As a result, Multi National Corporations (MNCs) affect every aspect of modern society including the local and global economies, labour rights, the environment and human rights. The 2008 global financial crisis depicted a string of corporate crimes involving insider trading, fraudulent audit practice, and corruption, in cases such as Enron, Eurotunnel, Pollypeck, Parmalat and Maxwell. In addition numerous cases have been reported on the destruction of the environment, exploitative labour conditions, inadequate labour standards, destruction of local livelihoods which may well amount to violations of national laws , international law and human rights in particular, with an urgent call for responsibility for MNCs. Recently the Supreme Court of India revived the case, almost after thirty years; the case involving thechemical giant, Union Carbide, related to the incident of chemical leak that occurred in Bopal India, killing and injuring thousands of innocent victims. Thus as far back as 1983, Union Carbide case showed the world the need to hold MNCs liable for human rights violations. As such the right to life and right to health are inalienable conditions of every human life embodied in the International Covenants of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. (ICESC) Hence the fight for corporate responsibility continues and to hold MNCs liable for violations of national and international law. CSR is the link between human rights and Enterprises.Thus the spotlight is on MNCs, with a string of questions attached. What do corporations owe to the society? What role could governments play in regulating the activities of corporations, their size, power and the impact on the society? Whether international law could play a role at in this scenario? And how effective could international law be in implementing CSR obligations of these powerful MNCs? This paper starts with an introduction to the two main concepts of Corporate Governance (CG) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), the historical scholarly debate on CSR to the present day application. Chapter Two introduces the case study on the incident of worker poisoning at the Apple Suppler; Wintek in China. Chapter Three identifies the one major source of corporate obligation voluntary corporate codes of conduct and assess the practical relevance against the case study. The rest of the paper is dedicated to exploring the ways and means as to how the Chinese workers could vindicate their human rights against MNCs like Apple. Thus Chapter Four identifies national law remedies and the national regulatory system incorporating international law obligations. Chapter Five examines international law as the main source of corporate responsibility with a study on the status quo of its implementation machinery at corporate, national and international levels followed by a novel and proposal for improvements in the enforcement mechanism in Chapter Six. Read Full Thesis
  • Message from C&C Precedent Partner

    Globalization has brought the world closer, which necessarily mandates the existence of effective mechanisms to ensure that rights are protected. I strongly believe that, as members of the legal profession, and as protectors of the law, it is our bounden duty to uphold the sovereignty of the citizen. The sustenance of this brainchild over an era of three decades in active legal practice, has cemented the belief that the time was opportune for the emergence of a pro-active organization to ensure the protection of the rights of the people. We at Cooray & Cooray aspire to undertake this responsibility, and with our network of leading legal professionals based around the world, we hope to make this venture a resounding success. –Vernon Cooray (Precedent Partner – Cooray and Cooray)
  • Empowering the Visually impaired through Law Reforms in Sri Lanka

    by Randhike Cooray

    Copyright in the modern age of technology is manifold, ranging from books and printed work to e-books, clips played on screen, acted out on a stage, music on the radio, software programmes, video games, lyrics of a song, paintings and so forth. Legal Copyright protection enables the author of copyright to reap the economic benefits of his or creation, acting as an incentive as it is the; “key to wealth in the age of information”. The law is the guardian of the interests of copyright owners, yet the law assumes the dual role of balancing the rights of other sections of the society vis a vis the economic rights of copyright owners. The aim of the current study is to build up a strong case made in favour of the visually impaired community in Sri Lanka and to create an especial exception for them traversing beyond the concept of “fair use” which currently exists in copyright law that enables use of copyright work without reference to the owner in the interest of the general public. The Sri Lankan Intellectual Property Act No. 36 of 2006 which includes a chapter on copyright law has engraved the concept of “fair use” with a tinge of elasticity required in practical application. Yet a clear exception for the personal use of visually impaired persons is a need of the hour and as an advancement of their rights to equality, education and information in the modern day of advanced technology. As a stepping stone, this paper defines visual impairment, evolution of the assistive technology and explores and compares the laws of progressive jurisdictions, mainly the UK, the USA, New Zealand and India that have created exceptions for the visually disabled persons, with the objective of lobbying for copyright law reform through the law Reform Commission of Sri Lanka. Read Full Thesis