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Frontiers of Law in China

Front. Law China    2019, Vol. 14 Issue (2) : 231-273
Advancing Direct Corporate Accountability in International Human Rights Law: The Role of State-Owned Enterprises
MA Xili()
Legal Adviser at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Regional Delegation for East Asia, Beijing 100600, China
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Resorting to the immensely state-centric international legal system to regulate corporate human rights abuses is often viewed as inadequate. Among many proposals aiming at filling the international regulatory gaps, imposing international human rights obligations directly on corporations is a bold one, which, due to profound doctrinal and practical challenges, is yet to be materialized. However, state-owned enterprises (SOEs), given their prima facie “state–business nexus” that blurs the traditional public–private divide, might provide a renewed opportunity to push forward the “direct international corporate accountability” campaign. This study investigates whether SOEs represent a golden chance for direct corporate accountability in the international legal regime. This study provides a legal analysis supported by case law, and by comparative and empirical research when appropriate. After providing a definitional account of SOEs, it examines the legal status of SOEs under international law. Then, in the reverse direction, it proceeds to explore if the state–business nexus of SOEs as non-state actors could render the argument toward direct international corporation accountability more convincing. Major findings reveal that SOEs, to a limited extent, represent a renewed opportunity to rethink direct corporate accountability under international law.

Keywords state-owned enterprises      direct corporate accountability      human rights obligations for corporate      international human rights law     
Issue Date: 08 August 2019
 Cite this article:   
MA Xili. Advancing Direct Corporate Accountability in International Human Rights Law: The Role of State-Owned Enterprises[J]. Front. Law China, 2019, 14(2): 231-273.
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