White paper outlines possible options for business & human rights treaty


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1 May 2015

White Paper: Options for a Treaty on Business and Human Rights

Author: Prof. Douglass Cassel, Notre Dame Law School & Prof. Anita Ramasastry, University of Washington School of Law

The United Nations Human Rights Council decided in June 2014 to establish an Intergovernmental Working Group to “elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.”…The Council did not further specify what sort of instrument should be drafted. The Center for Human Rights of the American Bar Association and the Law Society of England and Wales invited the present authors to prepare a “White Paper” on possible options for a treaty on business and human rights…The Paper begins by summarizing the context of the treaty process and current international law on business and human rights. It then addresses three main topics: Treaty Options: The wide variety of forms and content a treaty could take; Templates: Forms of treaties that enjoy broad support in international law, which could serve as templates for a treaty on business and human rights; and Cross-cutting issues: Issues of international law and policy that drafters may need to address…(companies covered; applicable rights; law governing civil damages suits; geographic scope of State duties; parent company responsibilities; and whether to impose duties only on States or directly on business)…

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