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Title: The role of international law in establishing corporate accountability through codes of conduct
Author: Milatovic, Sinisa
ISNI:       0000 0004 5359 1852
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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The thesis answers the following research question: what is the extent of the influence of international law on the construction and application of corporate codes of conduct, what factors determine this influence and through which processes does it occur? The thesis uses a mix of methods: a content analysis study, used to measure the extent to which codes of conduct incorporate international labour standards and the degree to which they have changed over time in this respect; legal research on whether corporations can be liable for violating their codes and how this risk factors in the drafting of codes; and case studies of fifteen retailer corporations, which examine how their codes were created and how they are being applied. The study's findings show there is an influence of international law on the construction and, to a far smaller degree, on the application of codes. The creation and application of codes is a politicised and contested process and codes are based on international law principally due to the pressure exerted by trade unions and NGOs, but also due to reputational risk, commercial pressure and mimicry by corporations. This influence has been selective, with corporations applying provisions in their codes that protect the rights carrying the biggest reputational risks. These findings show the flaws in the current international framework for corporate accountability, which is based on self-regulation through codes and audits. They also raise issue of whether changes, such as a binding international treaty or the creation of more collaborative and inclusive programmes to oversee the application of codes, may be required in order to ensure wider respect for labour rights of workers.
Supervisor: Kurkchiyan, Marina; Davies, Anne Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Human rights ; Socio-legal studies ; Comparative Law ; Contract,restitution,tort ; Global economic governance ; Corporate accountability ; labour rights ; governance