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Book Review: David Karp, Responsibility for Human Rights, Transnational Corporations in Imperfect States (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014) pp 218.

As discussions about developing international legal rules to enhance the accountability of corporations for human rights violations, perhaps in the form of a business and human rights treaty, are unfolding, David Karp proposes to take a step back in his 2014 book, Responsibility for Human Rights, Transnational Corporations in Imperfect States. ‘Activists’ have been focusing on how to hold corporations to account for human rights violations but this, Karp warns, is ‘premature’. 1 Instead, he suggests, we ought to ask first whether it is even appropriate to assign human rights responsibility to non-state actors, specifically corporations. The book, located in the field of international political theory, then proceeds to answer this question and, rather controversially given the victim-orientated inclination in the business and human rights field, concludes that in many circumstances corporations cannot be said to bear such responsibility.

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