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26 Oct 2021

Centre for Human Rights, Centre for Applied Legal Studies, Lawyers for Human Rights & African Coalition for Corporate Accountability

African Civil Society Reiterates Need for a Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights

This week, United Nations member states will gather in Geneva for the 7th negotiating session dedicated to developing a treaty to regulate the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.  After six years of discussion and engagement...the current draft treaty provides good basis for these continued negotiations...

As key members of African civil society, the Centre for Human Rights, Centre for Applied Legal Studies, Lawyers for Human Rights, and African Coalition for Corporate Accountability, call on State parties, and particularly African State parties, to continue to support this critical process to develop a legally binding instrument at the multilateral level. The envisioned Treaty will level the playing field and avoid fragmented approaches to corporate responsibility that allow for abuse.

We reiterate this call on African State parties, particularly in the face of recent reports that the United States is preparing for the first time to attend the negotiating session to propose an undefined, alternative process to the development of an internationally binding treaty. This is despite the clear mandate for a UN intergovernmental process aimed at strengthening the international human rights system, and addressing corporate human rights abuses, which mandate should be respected.

The proposed treaty builds on the non-binding United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGPs) and National Action Plans, and simply seeks to ensure that respect for human rights by corporate actors is made binding. We categorically reject any attempt to start a new process, or to weaken the intended purpose of a binding international instrument.

We therefore call on African State Parties to meaningfully engage in the negotiation process this week to develop a treaty that effectively addresses the common global challenges around prevention of corporate abuses and violations, addresses rising cases of corporate capture, and ensures effective access to remedies for victims of rights violations.