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Professor John Ruggie provides 'Guiding Principles' for the business & human rights treaty negotiations in open letter

Author: Professor John G. Ruggie, Published on: 10 October 2018

"'Guiding Principles' for the Business & Human Rights Treaty Negotiations: An Open Letter to the Intergovernmental Working Group," 9 October 2018

When I presented the UNGPs to the Human Rights Council in 2011, I stated that their endorsement by the Council would not mark the end of business and human rights challenges... but it was the end of the beginning because at last an authoritative foundation would exist... I did not then and do not now see any contradiction between the UNGPs and further international legal developments... With intergovernmental deliberations to begin soon, allow me to suggest here some ‘guiding principles'... which I hope might assist the overall process...

... [G]reat care must be taken that a treaty text does not lock in standards lower than those embodied in the UNGPs, and that the definition of terms in the treaty are consistent with the same terms used in the UNGPs. Otherwise the treaty risks sowing confusion and disillusionment among those already striving to implement the UNGPs... [A] business and human rights treaty must strive for the same broad base of support that we saw for the UNGPs.  This includes both home and host states to companies whose businesses affect people’s human rights... The UNGPs do not draw lines between companies that are part of global supply chains and those that are not. They apply to all enterprises regardless of their size, sector, location, and ownership structure. An effective treaty should do the same or risk creating yet another gap in human rights protection... [I]n the interest of achieving broad support and ensuring effective implementation, it would be wise to define the jurisdictional scope of the treaty in these terms, as the first step in the international legalization of business and human rights standards.

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