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4 Nov 2015

Donald Robertson, Herbert Smith Freehills, on Convectus Law (Australia)

Enforcement of proposed binding treaty will be crucial, says lawyer

“An International treaty On Business And Human Rights?”, 30 Oct 2015

A proposed treaty is the latest development in the steady march towards strengthening corporate accountability for protecting human rights…This has proven to be a controversial proposal, with support for and opposition to the treaty being roughly divided between the world's less developed and more developed countries respectively…[T]here is a jurisprudential question as to whether it is even appropriate for corporations and other private sector actors to be the subjects of international law, which has historically only addressed public entities.  Despite the lack of consensus regarding the appropriateness of a treaty, a UN working group was established to consider its development.  The working group’s draft report on its first session indicates that, even amongst supporters of the proposed treaty, there is a wide range of views on many of its the essential elements…[T]here was division over whether the treaty should apply only to multinational corporations…[I]t was generally accepted that it would be insufficient to limit the treaty to 'gross human rights violations'.  However, varying views were expressed as to which other rights should be covered...