ESCR-Net & FIDH: New Joint Treaty Initiative

Publish Date: 
Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Corporate Accountability Working Group (CAWG) of the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net), together with the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), are pleased to announce the launch of a joint two-year project which will bring together legal experts from all regions to form an Expert Legal Group (ELG) to work on concrete propositions towards a binding treaty on business and human rights. Following consultations in all major regions of the world with activists, academics, groups representing affected people and others in civil society, the ELG will work to develop clear legal proposals that shape and reflect their perspectives.

These proposals will form workable content ideas for the IGWG to consider for the elaboration of a robust and feasible international treaty, in order to address corporate related human rights violations taking into account the realities faced by rights-holders. Experts members of the ELG are members and partners of ESCR-Net and FIDH, and reflect gender and geographic balance.

ESCR-Net and FIDH are proud to co-host the first regional consultation with Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) in Bangkok, in May 2015. Other consultations will be held in other major regions throughout 2015 and 2016 prior to the release of all final legal proposals from the ELG Alongside meetings of the ELG, ESCR-Net and FIDH are also committed to holding meetings to support sub-national, national and regional groups to develop strategies that encourage their states to engage in the IGWG, but also consider how the international treaty process can be leveraged to support advocacy efforts to strengthen national and regional legal and policy frameworks.

ESCR-Net and FIDH (which together have a combined membership of close to 450 human rights organizations and individual activists, in more than half the countries of the world) have been central to calls to strengthen the international legal framework for more than a decade, and their leadership in this project emanates directly from the civil society statement developed at the ESCR-Net Peoples’ Forum on Human Rights and Business in Bangkok, in 2013. The statement, which gained the support of over 1000 signatories from more than 600 organizations and 400 individual activists in over 90 countries, called for the development of an open-ended intergovernmental working group with a mandate to develop an international legally binding instrument that can effectively address corporate human rights abuses and ensure effective accountability and redress mechanisms are available.

This project follows the successful passage of the Human Rights Council Resolution 26/9 in June 2014, which established a new UN Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG) with a mandate to develop a treaty related to human rights, transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

The outputs of this two year project will be publicly available to all groups involved in supporting a robust dialogue within the IGWG, with the intention of ultimately contributing towards the production of a sound and robust instrument that responds to the needs and priorities of those who are directly at risk of experiencing corporate-related human rights violations.

For more information, please contact Dominic Renfrey (drenfrey @ or Geneviève Paul (gpaul @