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30 Oct 2016

International Service for Human Rights

Business and human rights treaty | Key issues start to crystallise but attention on the protection of human rights defenders remains inadequate

Governments met in Geneva from 24-28 October 2016 for the second round of a process to elaborate an international treaty to address human rights violations committed by transnational corporations and other business enterprises.  From here on referred to briefly as ‘the IGWG’, this session hosted diplomats, academics, representatives of business and over 100 activists, victims and other civil society actors from around the globe...While the conversations on the nature of any future treaty remain complex, they seem to have coalesced around a few key points. In particular, most civil society speakers called for the treaty to be monitored by a robust treaty body with the capacity, as with other human rights treaties, to investigate claims by States and individuals.  They called for the treaty to ensure State obligations to ensure access to information, to remove the corporate veil, and to refrain from adopting policy or legislation that allows – implicitly or explicitly – loopholes in the application of extraterritorial obligations or parent company liability...[T]here was a diversity of civil society opinions about using treaty bodies, or an international court, as the primary mechanism to provide international avenues for effective remedy.  States, for their part, pressed for further discussion of international arbitration, including investor-state dispute settlement, to be a more substantial part of the discussion...