OAS Should Encourage Complementarity of Human Rights & Business Initiatives, Including UN Treaty

Publish Date: 
Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Today the Corporate Accountability Working Group of the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) call on the Organization of American States (OAS) to ensure OAS General Assembly resolutions concerning human rights and business require states in the OAS region to engage in the process to generate a new treaty on human rights and business at the United Nations (UN). 

This recommendation aligns with recognition at the UN for the value of greater complementarity on issues related to human rights and business activities, principally between with UN initiatives in this area, the UN Intergovernmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises (IGWG) (which is mandated to develop the new treaty), and the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights. 

This week, states from around North, Central and South America are participating together in the annual OAS General Assembly in the Dominican Republic.  The General Assembly sets the agenda of the OAS for the coming year. 

The timing of this statement coincides with the thirty second session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva where several issues relating to human rights and business will be discussed, outlining the importance to fostering greater coherence between the activities of regional systems like the OAS and the activities of the UN. 

Leadership from the OAS at this time will better streamline and amplify human rights and business efforts initiated at the UN, and vice versa. This in turn will encourage other regions to take similar actions that give greater impetus to delivering meaningful protection for communities facing corporate related human rights abuses.

This statement calling for leadership on human rights and business unfortunately comes in the wake of restrictions by the OAS which are preventing civil society from accessing the General Assembly plenary sessions.  In light of this, civil society from across the Americas have expressed deep disappointment and concern at the lack of transparency and democratic participation in the proceedings, and reminded OAS Member States that civil society participation is one a key pillar of decision-making in the OAS system. 

For further information please contact: drenfrey@escr-net.org 

For further information on the process to develop a treaty on human rights and business see: ESCR-Net & FIDH Treaty Initiative webpage and homepage of the Treaty Alliance, the global advocacy alliance promoting CSO participation in the treaty process.  ESCR-Net is a Member of the Treaty Alliance.

About the ESCR-Net Corporate Accountability Working Group

The Corporate Accountability Working Group (CAWG) is made up of over seventy organisations around the world, coordinating collective actions and building capacity to challenge emblematic cases of corporate abuse, advocating for new accountability and remedy structures. CAWG engages in collective advocacy, campaigning and collaborative research, member-to-member capacity building and information dissemination. Read more...