Remedies for human rights violations and environmental damages are governed by an international voluntary mechanism under the auspices of a number of United Nations initiatives. From the research carried out in this study, it appears that the reparations for victims who suffered human rights abuses are ineffective and remedies are mostly unenforceable. So far, states have been reluctant to offer an effective remedy, explicitly and in general for victims of human rights violations and environmental damages. The drafters of the nineteenth century human rights convention already believed that humanity had inviolable rights that are protected under any jurisdiction. However, human rights treaties do not expressly envisage causes of action for victims of human rights abuses under international or national law, and they are hardly able to exercise their rights.
Also, critical observation of the development of accountability can be noted in the outcome of the end of the Second World War, which created a crucial principle in the human rights accountability movement. The Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals tried military, civilian government, and industrialist (corporate) officials and found those in each category liable for their actions and inaction. The inclusion of military and civilian state and private officials in the trials held in the occupied zones continued into the 1950s, although Cold War politics led to the dismissal of charges against the industrialists in the early 1950s. Likewise, the increasing developments for human rights accountability included the US Civil Rights Movement and increasing activism around human rights issues including the formation of organisations such as Amnesty International in 1961 saw the push for liability for human rights abuses. In addition to these developments, rights were increasingly codified with the emergence of a growing number of human rights treaties in 1966 and the protocols on humanitarian law in 1977. A complementary development was the increasing examination of the overlapping responsibilities for human rights violations of state and non-state actors, prominently in the context of gender rights, which examined and developed standards for due diligence in cases of domestic violence over the last years.
It is through this development of human rights law that the role of transnational corporations began to receive additional international attention. In 1972, the UN Economic and Social Council ordered a study of the impact of transnational corporations on the development process and international relations. In 1979, the UN created an advisory body, the Commission on Transnational Corporations (UNCTC). From the period 1977–90, the UNCTC developed a code of conduct for multinational corporations, but the final draft prepared in 1990 was never adopted. Country-specific standards included the 1977 Sullivan Principles to address apartheid South Africa and the 1984 MacBride Principles, the code of conduct for US companies doing business in Northern Ireland.
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