Corporations have rights. Now we need a global treaty on their responsibilities
It’s been lively, to say the least. The debate over a binding international treaty on corporate human rights responsibilities has revealed deep divisions between the south – largely behind it – and Europe and other OECD member countries, which are staunchly opposed. In general, civil society groups support the negotiation of a treaty while business is, on the whole, against.
The debate began more than six months ago at the UN in Geneva and is unlikely to get much of a look-in at the World Economic Forum this year. But it should.
International binding law on corporations and human rights is, I am convinced, the only effective way to tackle corporate abuse of rights — abuses Amnesty International documents week-in, week-out.
Some argue that no treaty is needed. They point out that the UN Human Rights Council already endorsed the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (pdf) published in 2011. And it is true that the principles should be a game-changer.
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