The Lengthy Journey towards a Treaty on Business & Human Rights

Author: Maysa Zarob, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Published on: 30 September 2019

Half a decade has passed since in July 2014 the UN Human Rights Council first voted to begin negotiating a legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises...

The ongoing discussion has been marked by several key milestones; the most recent of which is the release of the Revised Draft Treaty by the government of Ecuador in July 2019...

We have argued elsewhere that for any Treaty to be effective it must pass three key tests: It must 1. meet the needs of vulnerable groups, 2. ensure effective access to remedy and justice, and 3. reinforce mandatory transparency and due diligence. How does the Revised Draft Treaty measure up against this criteria compared to the ‘Zero Draft’ of 2018?

Vulnerable Groups: The Revised Draft Treaty gives greater recognition and affords increased protection to human rights defenders... and bears key improvements towards ensuring gender justice and to the protection of persons living under occupation and in other conflict-affected areas. The Treaty rightly acknowledges other at-risk groups...

Access to Remedy and Justice: The strengthened provisions on legal liability for enterprises have also been widely welcomed; including by Carlos Lopez who has highlighted their “enormous significance for the implementation of international criminal law and human rights law in relation to business enterprises."...

Transperency and Due Diligence: The Treaty provides a key opportunity...to ensure that companies take adequate action to prevent abuse. The Revised Draft includes important provisions requiring states to introduce legislation to make human rights due diligence mandatory...

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