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30 Aug 2016

Jernej Letnar Černič, Associate Professor of Human Rights Law, Graduate School of Government and European Studies, Slovenia.

Reflections on the proposal on the binding treaty on business and human rights

The proposal on the binding treaty on business and human rights has a number of advantages and disadvantages...Arguably, access to justice is the principal area any potential treaty on business and human rights...should concentrate on...The main objection to the development of an international treaty on human rights and business is that it is not very clear what added value it would bring to the protection of individual’s rights...There are many international treaties that have not created added value for the everyday lives of individuals as they depend on the consent of states...The complaints procedure could, at best, be established in the form of quasi-judicial or quasi-legal procedure...However, it would be futile to expect that the UN could ever effectively monitor the activities of thousands of corporations...The actor-related scope of the proposed treaty...must cover any kind of corporations...Which rights should the treaty cover? Business activities are often complex and affect all areas of human activity...To select only a few rights would render any treaty futile and open to arbitrary discretion...[T]he proposal for business and human rights treaty illustrates that corporations can no longer hide behind the window-dressing of their human rights policies, but are already at this point of time subject to fundamental constitutional principles and rules to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.