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Binding Treaty

In June 2014, the UN Human Rights Council took steps to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises. Read about the latest developments, our debate series, and wider steps towards Mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence.

Intersessional consultations

Ahead of the 9th session of the Intergovt. Working Group on a Legally Binding Instrument, the Friends of the Chair group will organise regional consultations with States between April and June 2023.

Binding treaty: a brief overview

2014: In June, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva adopts a resolution drafted by Ecuador and South Africa. An open-ended intergovernmental working group (IGWG), chaired by Ecuador, is established with the mandate to elaborate an international legally binding instrument on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with respect to human rights.

2017: The Chair issues Elements for the draft legally binding instrument.

2018: In July, the IGWG presents the Zero Draft, followed by its draft Optional Protocol (an unofficial summary of the Zero Draft is available here). Stakeholders provide input on the Zero Draft during the fourth session of the IGWG in October 2018.

2019: The Revised Draft is published in July (an unofficial summary is available here, as well as an unofficial Spanish translation). In October, stakeholders provide input on content at the fifth session of the IGWG.

2020: The Second Revised Draft is published in August (an unofficial summary is available here). The 6th session of the IGWG was held from 26 to 30 October 2020. See commentaries and other news on the Second Revised Draft here.

2021: The Third Revised Draft is published in August. The 7th session of the IGWG took place from 25 to 29 October 2021.

2022: The 8th session of the IGWG took place on 24-28 October 2022. The Third Revised Draft and the concrete textual proposals submitted by States during the 7th session served as the basis for the discussions at the IGWG meeting. The Chair-Rapporteur has also shared suggested proposals for amendments to several articles to facilitate the discussion.

In November 2022, the Chair announced the release of the commentary on the informal proposals delivered at the 8th session (available in Spanish here), and a table that shows where elements of the third revised draft can be found in the informal proposals.

Current and previous drafts

Read expert commentaries on the various drafts of the treaty in our "Debate the Treaty" blog series.

Featured Contents

UN Intergovernmental Working Group releases Third Draft of proposed binding treaty on business and human rights

In this story, download the Third Revised Draft and explore expert commentaries on the new draft

Unofficial Summary of the Third Revised Draft

This summary focuses on the substantive provisions of the Treaty, as stipulated in sections I and II

Quarterly Update: Victims’ Rights under the Second Revised Draft

This Corporate Legal Accountability Quarterly Update looks at the most significant developments in corporate legal accountability in the third quarter of 2020 and includes a highlight on victims’ rights under the new draft treaty

Debate the Treaty Blog Series

This series run by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre explores the content and scope of the proposed binding treaty and analyses previous drafts. Explore our guest blog posts on the Binding Treaty to learn more from thought leaders across the field.

Taking stock: Reflections on the progress of the UN Binding Treaty (2022)

Reflections of experts from civil society organisations, academia and governments on the treaty process four years since the publication of the Zero Draft. This series seeks to elevate voices from the ground to ensure they are included in in the treaty debate.

Reflections on the Revised Draft Treaty (2019)

Thought leaders across the field provide their views on questions such as: How could the Revised Draft complement the Guiding Principles? Does it address the concerns of the business and human rights movement? How can the draft instrument deliver for all stakeholders? What should the content and scope of the Treaty be?

Reflections on the Zero Draft Treaty (2018)

Academics, lawyers and NGOs reflect on the opportunities and challenges presented by the Zero Draft Treaty.

Drafting the Treaty - Elements and Process (2015-2017)

Academics, professionals and civil society members comment on the negotiation process and draft elements of the proposed UN binding treaty, and its implications for the corporate accountability and business and human rights movement in general

Where next?

Mandatory Due Diligence

Find out more about efforts to bring about mandatory human rights due diligence laws

UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

Find out more about the "Protect, Respect and Remedy" framework