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23 Nov 2015

Shane Darcy, Business & Human Rights in Ireland

Corporate tax avoidance should be on agenda of UN Forum on Business & Human Rights, says academic

“Treaty debate heats up at 2015 UN business and human rights forum”, 23 Nov 2015

The potential binding business and human rights treaty was a recurring issue for debate at the United Nations Business and Human Rights Forum…The Forum provided an opportunity for the various protagonists to state their position on the proposed treaty…Many have argued that the scope of the treaty should not be limited to transnational companies only…However, States were criticised for using this limitation as a reason for abstaining from the negotiations.  The treaty process was said to be stirring up “old conflicts” regarding the debate between binding and voluntary approaches.  [There was] concern about the potential for a business and human rights treaty to create obligations for companies under international law, as this would go against the prevailing approach of international law in being addressed to States.  Professor Doug Cassel of the University of Notre Dame correctly pointed out that companies already enjoy rights under international law…There have been calls for a treaty to clarify issues around complicity and corporate criminal liability…Surprisingly, there was no dedicated panel at the 2015 Forum on the subject of corporate tax avoidance and human rights...and it seems about time that the Forum’s organisers put this important subject squarely on the agenda of this annual event.