This article addresses the relationship between transnational corporations (TNCs) and human rights (HR) in the third world. My focus will be on three aspects: first, the rise of an informal norm (the norm of effectiveness) which I perceive as a new and more pragmatic approach to complex human rights issues; second, the possible systemic effects of corporate voluntary initiatives; and third, the necessity of a more holistic view of the link between TNCs and HR. The understanding of the interplay between voluntary corporate initiatives and law/policy is essential in making sense of the link TNCs-HR from a legal perspective. I propose that this is a way of approaching TNC-HR issues in the tradition of human rights, as they are institutionalised in international law, while remaining in touch with the political, social and economic realities of the time.
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