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Corporate Accountability

Getting Started

The new BSR issue brief is an Overview of Corporate Social Responsibility.

Keywords: corporate responsibility, corporate social responsibility, business and social responsibility, business and human rights, corporate citizenship, corporate accountability, sustainability, ethical corporation, environmental responsibility, and international business enterprises - social aspects.

UN keywords: transnational corporations, corporate social responsibility, business ethics, standards of conduct.

Issues related to corporate responsibility: business ethics, community investment, environment, corporate governance, human rights, marketplace and workplace. See the section on "other issues" for more assistance on researching some of these areas.

Some Definitions


From the CorpWatch web site...

Oxford English Dictionary Definition:

green*wash: (n) Disinformation disseminated by an organisation so as to present an environmentally responsible public image. Derivatives greenwashing (n). Origin from green on the pattern of whitewash.

CorpWatch definition:

green*wash: (gr~en-w^osh) -washers, -washing, -washed 1.) The phenomenon of socially and environmentally destructive corporations attempting to preserve and expand their markets by posing as friends of the environment and leaders in the struggle to eradicate poverty. 2) Environmental whitewash. 3) Hogwash.


"The humanitarian-themed variant of greenwash is called "bluewash" - for the color of the United Nations flag." (Information from CorpWatch web site.)

A note about using web resources...

Critically evaluate what you find on the web. Be sure to consider the accuracy and quality of the data; completeness; coverage; timeliness; stability; and authority of the source. Understand who is posting the information by reading "about us" or like sections on the web sites.

Here today, gone tomorrow. If you find something useful on the web, print it off or download it.

Research Guides

These guides are good places to begin researching a topic. Often guides will point out relevant print and electronic sources.


For the most part, standards, guidelines, and regulations are produced by external organizations (governments, NGOs, IGOs, advocacy groups, and others) and are designed to support and enhance corporate accountability. Listed below are a few of many such documents.

International Organizations

Business & Professional Organizations

Other Collections of Standards (NGOs, Civil Society, etc.)

Web Resources

Freely Available Sites

Commercial Databases

For remote access to some of these databases, please be sure to follow the Proxy Server Setup Instructions.

Print Resources

To locate print materials in our collection, use the online catalog, LAWCAT.The catalog will identify relevant books and journals in our collection. LAWCAT cannot identify relevant articles contained in the journals, see the next section of this guide. Begin searching using keywords and then use relevant subject headings to locate more materials on point.

Relevant subject headings:

Social responsibility of business
Corporations -- Political aspects
Industrial policy -- Moral and ethical aspects
Business ethics
International business enterprises -- Social aspects

Corporate Responsibility and Labour Rights: Codes of Conduct in the Global Economy (London; Sterling, VA: Earthscan, 2002) [on order].

Corporate Responsibility: Private Initiatives and Public Goals (Paris, France: OECD, 2001) [K1322 .C67 2001].

Global Codes of Conduct: An Idea Whose Time has Come (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2000) [K1315 .G76 2000].

Human Rights Standards and the Responsibility of Transnational Corporations (The Hague; Boston: Kluwer Law International, 1999) [K1322 .A93 1999].

Nicola Jagers, Corporate Human Rights Obligations: In Search of Accountability (Antwerpen; New York: Intersentia, 2002) [K3240 .J33 2002].

Journal Articles

It is not possible to point out the journals in law and the social sciences that deal with this topic. In order to locate articles on point, search the journal indexes listed below. Indexes provide access to more relevant literature than searching full-text law reviews on Lexis and Westlaw.

Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (London: Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Chicago: American Association of Law Libraries, 1960- ) [Reading Room K2 .I38 IFLP]. Also available on the web (UCB only). A multilingual index to articles and book reviews appearing in approximately 492 legal journals published worldwide, except those from the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and Australia.

Index to Legal Periodicals and Books (New York: H.W. Wilson Co.) [Reading Room K2 .I38 ILP]. Also available on LEXIS (LAWREV library, ILP file) and WESTLAW (ILP) (UCB only). This is the only print index with good historical coverage. Covers 925 legal journals, yearbooks, institutes, bar association organs, law reviews, and government publications originating in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

Legal Journals Index (Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire: Legal Information Resources Ltd., 1986-999). Available on WESTLAW (LJI) (UCB only). Indexes approximately 485 journals from the UK & Europe. Coverage is from 1986 on.

Legal Resource Index. Available on LEXIS (LAWREV library, LGLIND file) and WESTLAW (LRI). Also available on from the Law Library's homepage as LegalTrac (UCB only). The print equivalent is called Current Law Index (Los Altos, CA: Information Access Corp.,1980-) [Reading Room K2 .C8]. Indexes over 850 journals from the United States, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia.

PAIS International (New York: Public Affairs Information Service, 1991- ) [print version available in main library]. Also available on the Web (UCB only). Provides international coverage of materials in government, international relations, legislation, political science, statistics, and related areas.

Other social science indexes and abstracts are available through UCB Indexes and Abstracts, such as ECONLIT, Social Science Abstracts, and PA Research II (ProQuest). All of these tools may be useful in locating literature in this area. (UCB only).

Other Issues

These guides and resources will point you to sources in related areas of research.

Forced Labor/Labor Rights

See guide to researching Forced Labor.

Corporate Environmental Practices is a directory of published corporate environmental and social reports.

Human Rights
International Economic Law
United Nations

United Nations Documentation Research Guide (United Nations Dag Hammarskjo"ld Library). Good introduction to researching UN documents.

UNBISNET. Catalogue of UN publications and documentation indexed by the United Nations Dag Hammarskjo"ld Library and the Library of the UN Office at Geneva.

See the ASIL Guide to Electronic Resources for International Law: United Nations.


BSR, Overview of Corporate Social Responsibility has sample policies and links to the company's web site.

Business & Human Rights, Companies with Human Rights Policies., Virtual Resource Center, Codes of Conduct, Standards, and Guidelines (select from drop down box under "search for tool types").

Center for Ethical Business Cultures. Contains a list of links to corporate social responsibility programs.

Corporate Watch Resources, includes company profiles and archived articles about companies.

CSRWire, Corporate Citizenship Reports, provides access to a collection of corporate non-financial reports, including sustainability, the environment, health and safety, and corporate citizenship.

Current Awareness

Prepared by Marci Hoffman , International & Foreign Law Librarian , UC Berkeley Law Library. Prepared September 2003.

Last edited by Michael Lindsey, 16 July 2009

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