Blog: New business and human rights treaty takes shape

Author: Maysa Zorob, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, on Open Global Rights, Published on: 13 December 2018

In July 2018, the UN’s open-ended intergovernmental working group on business and human rights (IGWG) released the first, official draft of the proposed treaty on business and human rightsdiscussed for the first time…in October 2018…While the draft is a good start, it needs significant improvement…

During the recent IGWG session,…stakeholders voiced a myriad of concerns, endorsements and suggestions regarding the Zero Draft Treaty…Civil society criticism of the treaty revolved around a number of key concerns, including: the scope of the treaty; the protection of groups at heightened risk of human rights abuse; and victim’s access to an effective remedy…

Big business enjoys an inequality of power and wealth over the communities and workers in their operations and supply chains, which leads to impunity…The UNGPs and the hoped for treaty must reconcile the inequality of arms between communities and corporations, by reinforcing each other in an international system that provides genuine protection and remedy for victims…

Firstly, regulation must take account of the particular needs of people at high risk of vulnerability in companies’ operations and supply chains…Secondly, the treaty should strengthen access to an effective remedy at a national level…Finally, the treaty should…ensure that companies take adequate action to prevent abuse. 

…We need the UN Guiding Principles to ensure that human rights are put at the heart of business [and] an effective treaty could…benefit…all.

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