Promoting regulation and remedy for business-related abuses

Publish Date: 
Monday, January 13, 2020

More than 25 members of ESCR-Net—social movements and NGOs from around the world—participated in the fifth session of the UN Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG), which is tasked with drafting a binding treaty on business and human rights, from 14-18 October 2019.

A significant number of ESCR-Net members were present in Geneva for the IGWG; including several grassroots women leaders representing social movements engaged in struggles for land, housing, natural resource and labor rights. Among ESCR-Net members who significantly engaged in this process at the UN were representatives from Consejo de Pueblos Wuxhtaj (Guatemala), Fundación Promoción Humana (Argentina), Comité Ambiental en Defensa de la Vida (Colombia), Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (Uganda), Manushya Foundation (Thailand), Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (Argentina), PODER (Mexico), Centro de Derechos Economicos y Sociales (Ecuador), Centre for Applied Legal Studies (South Africa), Tebtebba Foundation (Philippines), FIDH, International Commission of Jurists (Switzerland), FIAN International, Franciscans International, Red Internacional de los Derechos Humanos (Switzerland), Corporate Accountability (US), Al-Haq (Palestine), Center for Constitutional Rights US), Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) and Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) from India. 

In October 2019, members expressed powerful human rights arguments to reinforce the network’s collective call for a strong treaty to guide efforts by states to regulate business activity.  Building on collective advocacy in recent years, at the IGWG members have emphasized the need for strong language in the treaty with regards to corporate capture, women’s rights and the protection of human rights defenders.

Looking ahead to the sixth IGWG in October 2020, ESCR-Net members around the world have already begun to strategize on critical issues that must be addressed in the lead up to the upcoming negotiations of the draft treaty. Advocates are encouraging States to engage in the treaty process and push for stronger language in the text of the treaty that would provide the utmost possible protection for indigenous communities, human rights defenders, women and communities in conflict affected areas.  This will be crucial at a time when members are also working to prevent corporate capture of the process and to ensure that the treaty reflect appropriate language that would prevent conflict of interest in public decision-making processes. Additionally, States will be urged in the coming months to propose language amendments to the treaty that would ensure further protection of the environment, land and natural resources. In their advocacy, members will again be sharing and referring to the collective ESCR-Net position, which reflects language for a treaty that is more in line with human rights and international law than previous drafts.

See interventions by ESCR-Net members during negotiations


See more videos of members reacting to the negotiations

Working Group(s):