Treaty Negotiation Moves Forward to 2018
The ESCR-Net Corporate Accountability Working Group (CAWG) continues to engage with the UN process to develop a new treaty to regulate transnational corporations and other business enterprises.
In October 2017, around 20 CAWG several from all regions traveled to Geneva to attend the third session of the UN Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG). There, members worked to advance three advocacy positions on:
These advocacy positions were built on the Network’s collective 2016 submission.
In September, just few weeks before the UN session in Geneva, the draft elements of the Human Rights and Business Treaty were released. Members promptly responded by organizing their 2017 collective submission to the IGWG.
During the IGWG itself, we co-sponsored three side events, directly linked to our three priority advocacy positions.
- On Monday, 23 October, Mind the Gap: A Feminist Approach to the Binding Treaty addressed the lack of a gender analysis in the draft elements;
- On Wednesday, 25 October, The cost of impunity: cross-regional fight for effective remedies dealt with the importance of the treaty to address human rights defenders and create an enabling environment for them to operate;
- On Thursday, 26 October, Protecting regulation and remedy from commercial interests: ensuring the human rights of people against corporate capture discussed how corporate capture manifests, and the importance of ensuring that there is a provision in the Treaty that prevents corporations from exercising undue influence that would undermine the process of creating binding regulations.
Throughout the IGWG session in Geneva, CAWG members worked alongside secretariat staff, sending daily updates to fellow members and allies on developments.
Several CAWG members were present at the African Coalition for Corporate Accountability (ACCA) General Assembly in Pretoria, South Africa, leading a plenary panel on UN-level advances and the need for binding regulations to ensure corporate accountability. Other CAWG members have proposed an event at the First Forum on the Inter-American Human Rights System.
Finally, members of CAWG, the Women and ESCR Working Group, and a larger informal group of feminists coordinating around the Treaty, are all considering gathering at the UN Commission on the Status of Women event in March 2018. This would be a great opportunity to connect with a wide range of feminist groups on our corporate accountability work.
The Intergovernmental Working Group of the UN Human Rights Council has had three negotiations since 2015. During the last of these sessions in Geneva, civil society leaders demonstrated the need to continue intergovernmental negotiations and contributions with substantive inputs. At the end of these negotiations, the European Union (EU) blocked a conclusion that would have ensured the continuation of negotiations during an upcoming session in Geneva in 2018, as recommended by the chair. Instead, the EU just proposed to have informal consultations on how to continue the process.
On 14 December, civil society organizations were informed that a resolution was proposed in the 5th Committee of the UN General Assembly in NY, which would have cut the funding required for the process to continue and, by doing so, block future negotiations. CAWG members and Treaty Alliance organizations quickly mobilized to alert the public. By the next week the resolution that would have cut funding for the Binding Treaty was withdrawn.
Now, thanks to the work of our members and allies, the Treaty negotiation process is expected to continue through 2018. The Human Rights Council has included in its draft calendar for 2018 a week for the IGWG on TNCs and OBEs from 15-19 October.
Stay up to date on our Human Rights and Business Treaty Project Webpage.