Debate the Treaty


Negotiations to develop a treaty on business and human rights kicked off on 6 July 2015 with the first meeting of the UN Human Rights Council’s open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights (OEIWG), which has a mandate of elaborating an international legally binding instrument. In July 2018, the OEIWG released the first draft of the legally binding instrument being negotiated, also known as the “Zero Draft” (a summary of the Zero Draft is available here). An Optional Protocol was later published and is available here. On 16 July 2019, a "Revised Draft" was released.

The Treaty evokes strong emotions across the business and human rights movement. Those in favour often express their desire for harder law, by speaking of their frustrations at the UN Guiding Principles and voluntary initiatives.  While advocates of the Guiding Principles retort that they have only been around for a few years – a blink in the eye of most UN agreements.

How can the Treaty deliver for all stakeholders? How could it complement the Guiding Principles and other initiatives? What should the content and scope of the Treaty be? Does the Zero Draft address the concerns of the business and human rights movement and other stakeholders?

This Debate the Treaty Blog series aims to provide space for an exchange of views by thought leaders across the field on these very questions. If you would like to contribute to these reflections, please contact us.