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MSc Environmental Policy and Regulation
You can start or join in a discussion here. Visit emeraldpublishing. Abstract Multinational companies whose importance has increased or improved depending on global capitalisation and travelling around the world without knowing borders have activities in developing countries due to suitable conditions e. Please note you might not have access to this content. You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account. If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form. Contact us. To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.
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There is an increased awareness that multinationals can cause serious problems for the environment, the workforce, the state, and communities at large. As many of these problems are transnational as well as national, they cannot be resolved by nations alone. However, creating international organizations through agreements between nation-states and then implementing international rules and legal sanctioning-mechanisms has proved problematic. Transnational social movements have used reputational mechanisms to embarrass firms in front of their employees, their customers and their shareholders when they have transgressed broadly-accepted standards.
The goal of creating a structure that encourages good behaviour has led to the formation of systems of certified rules and labelling. In these multi-stakeholder contexts, social movements, firms and states have developed rules and monitoring systems that provide consumers, shareholders and states with certain guarantees. These ensure that particular products meet particular pre-agreed standards and they are labelled accordingly with recognisable badges, such as, for example, those of the Forestry Stewardship Council FSC.
There are, however, multiple problems associated with this particular model, some of which are explored in our Forum.
The interaction between transnational social movements and national states is also problematic. States often legitimately claim authority over their territories and obstruct or object when transnational social movements become involved. This is especially an issue between states in the Global South, whose concern is with rapid development in order to reduce poverty, and social movements in the North, who often advocate caps on growth. Unlike governments, transnational social movements are not elected.
On the other hand, governments can be subject to corruption that prevents hard laws, regulations and sanctions from being implemented properly, even when these governments have the capacity to do the job and a sufficiently extensive cadre of experts bound by bureaucratic rules and careers at their disposal. With these issues in mind, the focus of this Forum is on the development of transnational governance mechanisms, and how multinationals, social movements and states, particularly in the Global South, deal with the challenges they represent.
Drawing on Polanyi, we look at the transnational governance literature that is the subject of this Forum and consider three questions: 1 what is the role of the state within Polanyi's 'double movement' and the limitations of the state as a governance mechanism under globalisation; 2 how can transnational NGOs and social movements explore gaps in governance within capitalism as an alternative way of restraining the market powers exercised by MNCs, and finally; 3 under globalised capitalism, how can the Global South position itself within the global economy and the development of governance mechanisms.
Although 21 st Century capitalism has its own unique features, its development can still be seen through the lens of Polanyi's 'double movement' Block, Using this concept, Polanyi describes how social actors construct institutions that confine and regulate markets. Tension between two opposing forces tends to be a characteristic of capitalism. On the one side one has the pressure for a free market, a neo-liberal argument in favour of more self-regulating mechanisms.
Free markets, however, tend to generate inequality and economic conflicts that threaten the social order. This in turn creates pressure to tame these same markets by building institutions based on different principles, especially on the idea of citizenship and the rights of citizens to education, housing, healthcare and welfare provision and, more recently, a sustainable environment.
The state has traditionally been the primary vehicle for providing such institutions, by using its monopoly over hard law and its tax raising powers to fund them. Thus, markets become socially embedded and free markets are no more than myths Polanyi, Nevertheless, the 'double movement' suggests that forces supporting the reduction of the state and the expansion of the market will continue their struggle to push the pendulum back the other way and away from the state. Block argues that the movement to disembed the market from society creates a great burden on ordinary people because they are obliged to endure the higher costs it implies.
Consequently, the state's efforts are often necessary to ensure that these groups are able to tolerate such costs without engaging in disruptive activism. Thus, the 'double movement' creates a paradox, where the force of the state is necessary in order to impose the market logic and to control the associated risk of social disruption caused by increasing social tensions Polanyi, The Mariana disaster emphasises this paradox, paving the way for our first question about transnational governance: what is the role of the state in regulation as depicted in Polanyi's 'double movement'?
Whilst one dimension emphasises the state as providing society with a safeguarding cushion to deal with the market's negative externalities, a second dimension emerges in the form of the need for state intervention as a counterweight to market influence. Federal and State authorities need to play a more active role in the disaster response.
While Samarco is responsible for repairing the damage caused, the State remains the primary duty bearer to uphold human rights of affected communities. There needs to be a better balance in the power structure relating to investments to ensure that a regulatory or State framework OHCHR, Such an analysis takes a traditional state-centred view of regulation; that is, failings on the part of the state were ultimately behind the Samarco disaster.
Multinational corporations and infectious disease: Embracing human rights management techniques
However, the UNHCR view also points to the role of transnational forces in monitoring and controlling markets. This is illustrated, in the Samarco case, by the role of the transnational social movement, Greenpeace, which has demanded justice for the victims, but has done so by using different methods, thereby reflecting the importance of going beyond Polanyi's initial formulation.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific has organised protests at BHP Billiton's headquarters in Australia using information about the disaster received from Greenpeace Brazil to better inform its campaign Greenpeace, We would suggest, therefore that one should add new levels to Polanyi's double movement. As firms become multinationals, and as social movements and problems become transnational and are no longer containable within national spaces, one must conceive new modes of governance that include and go beyond the nation state level and its capacity or not to regulate, monitor and control markets.
In a complex globalised world, there are multiple potential levels of governance. In contemporary capitalism, therefore, civil society at both national and transnational levels can play an important role in developing governance mechanisms. NGOs and social movements can assume the role of questioning and confronting such market powers by engaging with multilateral organisations or organising activities e.
In this Forum, Vieira and Quack examine this question of how transnational social movements connect with national governance spaces, focusing on how local movements leverage transnational networks in order to influence domestic institutional regulation. They analyse the transnational mobilization of indigenous groups to influence the development of new institutions during the re-democratization period in Brazil.
Identifying three trajectories of transnational mobilization between the s and s, Vieira and Quack show that transnational links created by these groups helped fashion a dense social movement able to influence national institution building. They analyse the links that bridge the local and global levels of this movement, and rather than just positioning actors within these levels, they show the simultaneous embeddedness of state and social actors within both local and global spheres. Such links are key when analysing the capacity of transnational activism to change a local institutional context because actors use them to gain knowledge, organize, and leverage multiple levels.
Similarly, several papers in this Forum show the simultaneous interconnections that exist between the nation-state and the new spaces of governance. States in the South face certain challenges to improving their skills and resources in order to increase their capacities to produce national public goods. To achieve higher local capacity, the state must coordinate with civil society and global NGOs to complement resources and knowledge for addressing complex social and environmental problems Schounten et al.
Dimensions of embeddedness
Governments also create and leverage transnational alliances with other states, multinational companies, and global civil society organizations to develop their local economies. Srinivas shows how transnational forces influence the way in which local governments regenerate decaying urban infrastructure and manage development plans, whilst at the same time facing local civil society mobilization aimed at an equitable distribution of the benefits of national resources.
Finally, as governments negotiate new global agreements and rules for regulating markets, transnational and local civil society demands to be included in global and local spheres so as to push for equitable and sustainable development Delgado, How can transnational NGOs and social movements explore the spaces for governance that are emerging within 21 st Century capitalism as an alternative way to restrain market power exercised by the MNCs? The phenomenon of transnational governance has emerged within contemporary capitalism as a result of the establishment of cross-border labour, capital and information flows and global supply chains.
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The double standards of multinationals
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