Accountants and Human Rights: Extending the Boundaries of Accountability

By Susan Wild and Edwin Mares.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In the increasingly globalized environment of business, there has been growing international concern regarding the negative impacts of corporate activity on human rights, particularly in developing countries. This paper argues that in light of recent increased societal expectations regarding corporate responsibility, professional accounting bodies should adopt a protagonist role towards improving business accountability for human rights issues. Accountants are prominent players within business activity and are members of a profession with global reach; accounting organizations occupy a powerful position with strong potential to influence positive corporate social responsibility. This study presents an empirical analysis of the text of the codes of ethics of major international accounting organizations. It finds that these codes make no reference to human rights issues and impose no responsibility upon their members regarding human rights observation, either individually or in regard to the activities of corporate clients. The paper concludes that accounting organizations should include in their mandatory ethical codes a requirement that accountants are proactive in ensuring the observation of human rights within their “sphere of influence”, in accordance with current societal expectations for extended corporate social responsibility.

Keywords: Corporate Social Responsibility, Human Rights, Accounting

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 5, Issue 10, pp.387-398. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 617.308KB).

Susan Wild

Lecturer, Accounting and Information Systems, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

For a biography see: http://www.acis.canterbury.ac.nz/people/wild.shtml

Prof. Edwin Mares

Professor, School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

Mares holds a chair in philosophy at Victoria University in New Zealand. He works mainly in logic, but also writes in ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology. He is the author of two books: Relevant Logic (Cambridge University Press, 2004) and (with Stuart Brock) Realism and Anti-Realism (Acumen/McGill-Queens, 2007). He is currently writing a book on epistemology, about how we know the truths of mathematics and other similar subjects.

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