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corporate accountability; corporate law; shareholder rights; Third World Approaches to International Law


The expansion of Canadian extractive corporations' overseas business operations has led to serious concerns regarding human rights-related impacts. As these apprehensions grow, we see a countervailing rise in calls for government intervention and in levels of socially conscious shareholder advocacy. I focus on the latter as manifested in recent use of the shareholder proposal mechanism found in Canadian corporate law. Shareholder proposals, while under-theorized, provide a valuable lens through which to consider the argument that economic behaviour is embedded within social relations. In doing so, I situate my analysis within Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) scholarship. Elsewhere, I have supported the use of corporate law tools in advancing the international human rights enterprise and argued that investment activism can be an essential component of this advancement. This paper represents a reflexive pause. I seek to problematize the shareholder proposal as a human rights advocacy tool and to examine it as a site of contestation.