NGO defending digital rights makes its recommendations to UN Human Rights Council for the proposed draft treaty on business & human rights

Author: Accessnow, Published on: 6 February 2019

"Four years to a first draft: slow progress toward treaty to bind companies", 31 Jan 2019

The U.N. Human Rights Council has published the first official draft of a legally binding treaty on business and human rights. This draft has been four years in the making and marks a huge achievement in advancing corporate accountability for human rights abuses.

[Among some of the gravest risks that ICT companies pose to our human rights are those to our freedom of expression and privacy. The rights to express oneself, and to disseminate and receive information freely and securely are fundamental to digital rights. While digital platforms and vendors help us to extend our lives online, they also threaten our rights when they limit our ability to express ourselves and when they improperly collect, retain, and share our personal data. The Zero Draft proposes a framework of human rights due diligence which could possibly address these risks.]

The draft proposes a framework of due diligence which calls on companies to consider the human rights impacts of their business activities. However, the draft leaves much room for improvement, particularly with respect to protecting digital rights.

We call on the Council to strengthen the draft by:

  1. demanding transparency from companies on human rights impacts assessments,
  2. closely scrutinizing the business/state relationship to prevent private and state-owned/controlled companies from enabling states to carry out human rights abuses,
  3. providing effective remedial mechanisms for victims, with fair processes and adequate redress, and 
  4. widening the scope of application of the treaty to include domestic companies.

We also call for greater involvement of civil society in the treaty process to ensure the treaty’s legitimacy and effectiveness...

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