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United Nations Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights

United Nations Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights

The United Nations Human Rights Council is currently working on a treaty on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights.

The treaty has the potential to radically improve respect for human rights in the supply chains of transnational corporations by introducing binding mechanisms to hold companies accountable under international law.

But it won’t just happen automatically. Much support is still needed from EU member states and other countries. Scroll down to find out how you can help to make it happen.

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About the UN treaty on transnational corporations and human rights

In 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council appointed an open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations (TNCs) and other business enterprises with respect to human rights (OEIGWG). The working group has proposed a binding treaty to hold transnational corporations accountable for human rights abuses within their international supply chains. The group is comprised of representatives of several countries that hold seats on the Human Rights Council.  
 
Led by Ecuador, the treaty is in the early stages of development. The working group's third meeting will be held from October 23 to 27 in Geneva, and will discuss the treaty's scope, the obligations for transnational corporations and enforcement mechanisms.
 
This ground-breaking process could lead to major changes for people around the world who experience human rights violations by transnational companies. By contrast to the UN's existing voluntary guidelines on business and human rights, the treaty would be binding under international law and would make big companies accountable for human rights abuses in their supply chains.
 
Currently, court cases about human rights abuses in supply chains tend to go nowhere because the companies always find a way to move the case to another country in the supply chain/another jurisdiction, where the case must start all over again. The treaty could make it possible to sue companies that have bad practices in developing countries in the companies' home countries (eg. suing a US company in a US court for human rights abuses in Latin America).
 
To date, EU member states on the United Nations Human Rights Council have shown minimal support for the binding treaty. EU member states currently holding seats on the United Nations Human Rights Council include: Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, The Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and the United Kingdom.
 
GUE/NGL MEPs are calling on EU member states that are represented in the Human Rights Council to support a binding treaty that would have a real impact on the lives of millions of people. The MEPs are also calling for support from parliamentarians around the world via the Inter-parliamentary Initiative for a UN Binding Treaty.
 

Progress

October 23-26, 2017

Third meeting of the UN Human Rights Council’s open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations (TNCs) and other business enterprises with respect to human rights (OEIGWG) in Geneva.

Short updates will be posted here as the process continues.

 

The Inter-parliamentary Initiative for a UN Binding Treaty

If parliamentarians from around the world put their support behind this treaty it would send a strong signal to the members of the United Nations and the Human Rights Council that the whole world wants this treaty to become a reality.

That why GUE/NGL MEPs created the Inter-parliamentary Initiative for a UN Binding Treaty which asks parliamentarians from around to world to show their support for a binding treaty.

Ask your national and regional parliamentarians to sign today!

 

How you can help to make it happen

  • Contact your country’s representative on the UN Human Rights Council and ask them to support a binding (not voluntary) treaty
  • Ask your national and regional parliamentarians to sign the Inter-parliamentary Initiative for a UN Binding Treaty

 

Media resources

Press conference in Geneva, October 23, 2017

Video explaining the need for a binding treaty (EN) (multiple languages coming soon)

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