United Nations Code of Conduct on Transnational Corporations: Experience and Lessons Learned

The first effort to arrive at comprehensive and balanced rules governing the relations of governments and multinational enterprises were undertaken in the United Nations a few decades ago. The negotiations of a United Nations Code of Conduct on Transnational Corporations began in the late 1970s against the background of the quest for a New International Economic Order, and they ended unsuccessfully in the early 1990s, against the background of a beginning trend to liberalize the regulatory framework for foreign direct investment in order to attract such investment. These negotiations crystalized the interest situations of developed and developing countries in the area of international investment agreements. What were these interest situations? What were the obstacles for reaching agreement? Why could negotiators not arrive at an agreement? Where do we stand today? What could bring about change? What are the lessons learned from these negotiations? These are the principal questions that are explored in the framework of this project, including through interviews with key participants in the negotiations. The article available here discusses these issues in detail.