The Criminal Liability of Corporations: A Step Forward in the Implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

Alejandro Sánchez González

Abstract

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP) marked the end of a long journey towards regulating corporate conduct on this issue. However, they were conceived only as a focal point to guide public, corporate and civil governance towards the respect and protection of human rights. For this reason, the UNGP function as a common platform on which new rules and strategies should be developed. In this sense, as an element of public governance, Mexico adopted the criminal liability of corporations (CLC), which entered into force in 2016, along with the accusatory criminal justice system. Thus, since one of the purposes of criminal law is the subsidiary protection of legal assets —most of which have an underlying fundamental right—, the purpose of this article is to determine whether or not Mexico’s adoption of the CLC enhances the implementation of the UNGP, and if so, to evaluate its scope and limitations. After scrutinizing the UNGP in light of the regulation of the CLC in Mexico, the author argues that, although its performance can be optimized in many ways, the CLC plays an essential role in the area of business and human rights, not only for its direct contributions, but also for the interaction it generates with corporate and civil governance.

Keywords

Business and human rights; corporate criminal liability; human rights due diligence; criminal compliance

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