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19 Jan 2015

Richard Karmel, Mazars UK

Focus on corporate behaviour change, instead of a binding treaty on business & human rights, says partner at Mazars

"What's the point of a business and human rights treaty?", 15 Jan 2015

Last year, the Ecuadorian government proposed…an international legal instrument, ensuring that companies infringing their human rights obligations…faced legal sanction…[T]here are several issues with their treaty:…Its principles…are likely to be watered down due to countries’ self-interest…Its inception didn’t receive a clear majority of the votes in the first instance…[It] will run into so many obstacles, that it will become unworkable…It’s unlikely to incorporate the voice of business…[It] will exclude national companies…[A]lready existing legal instruments…tackle human rights infringements…[T]he negotiation period will be a minimum of 10 years…[T]he idea of a treaty immediately undermines [the UNGPs]…Consequently, these treaty discussions…are probably a waste of time…I’m sure that in the not-so distant future, on account of current and future national regulations and the UNGP Frameworks, corporate behaviour will change; thereby precluding the need for a treaty in the first place.