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23 Oct 2023

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre and Lawyers for Human Rights

Day 1: Monday 23 October


Morning Session

The first day of the 9th session of the Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group (OIGWG) started today in Geneva with the opening statements by States.

The Africa Group voiced a clear directive for the 9th session of negotiations, urging a steadfast focus on the 3rd revised draft. It largely argued that the updated draft, disappointingly, neglects to incorporate the valuable input and proposals put forth by the Africa Group, a stance embraced by several other states.

An underlying concern also emerged in the form of resistance to expanding the scope of the treaty, with many states calling for adherence to the original vision set out in resolution 29/6, i.e. to limit the scope of a legally binding instrument (LBI) to transnational corporations (TNCs) due to gaps in international human rights law in this area. The debate surrounding the treaty's scope remains pivotal.

The recording of the morning session is available on UN TV here.

Afternoon Session

Member states continued to voice their concerns over the updated draft , particularly over its scope, which seeks to extend not only to transnational companies but to all business activities. Egypt, Russia, and other states sought multiple clarifications from the Chair Rapporteur on its mandate and powers to diverge from Resolution 29/6.

The Chair also addressed comments related to alleged discrimination and unfairness in the LBI process. The Chair expressed that contributions from the Accra, Ghana Forum were not accounted for in the updated draft of the LBI owing to time constraints as the consultation took place in October, after the publication of the updated draft in July. He stated that the concerns of the Africa Group will be incorporated in the report of the 9th session, which was accepted by Cameroon (the Africa Friend of the Chair).

Portugal and Colombia stressed on the importance of an inclusive, open and transparent treaty negotiation process, highlighting the importance of civil society perspectives.

South Africa strongly urged that the treaty be limited to TNCs, and stated that an expansion of the scope would encourage TNCs to set up local companies to take the fall and once again leave victims of corporate abuses without a remedy.

Multiple states commented on the changes in the updated draft on provisions on legal liability, and stressed the importance of building systems consistent with international and domestic legal laws.

The EU and other states stated that the LBI should include an explicit reference to the protection of the environment.

The recording of the afternoon session is available on UN TV here.


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