Zero Draft treaty on business & human rights does not address adequately relationship with intl. investment agreements, says expert
Author: Marta Piazza, Deloitte on Sense & Sustainability (USA), Published on: 29 November 2018
"The “Zero Draft”: Missed Opportunity or the Beginning of a Revolution?", 8 Nov 2018
…In June 2014, the Human Rights Council adopted Resolution 29/9 to establish an open-ended intergovernmental working group (IGWG) with the mandate to develop a binding instrument to regulate business activities with respect to human rights.
Four years and three sessions later, in July 2018, the IGWG released what is considered ”one of the most important international human rights treaties of recent years”…the so-called [Zero Draft].
This is a rare case of international negotiations tackling non-state actors’ obligations [and] it is the first time that corporate actors are explicitly mentioned as having obligations under a human rights treaty.
Nevertheless, none of the treaty’s clauses will result in businesses having direct human rights obligations…[that will remain] conditional upon certain legislative measures and other steps that must be taken by participating states…
[While some experts regret its restrictive scope, the draft is also criticised for not effectively addressing] governments’ inability or unwillingness [to secure corporate compliance and] the existing asymmetry between the rights and obligations of businesses…exacerbated by international investment agreements (IIAs).
[While]…victims will be unable to directly claim that the treaty commitments have not been honoured,…investors [will be able to] sue a state alleging the breach of one of the rights contained in the IIA when state’s regulatory decisions negatively impact their investments.
For the sake of completeness, the Zero Draft does address its relationship with investment treaties…[but it] fails to specify which rights shall be covered under the treaty…
This draft represents the “ground zero” of corporate accountability, the beginning of a silent revolution that will radically change the existing panorama of international law.