Advocacy for Binding Corporate Accountability Standards

Bringing the Treaty-making process to the Global South in 2015-6

Joining the global reach of the membership of ESCR-Net and FIDH, these two networks have developed a joint Treaty Initiative. The project which undertake consultations in all global south regions that bring together an Expert Legal Group (ELG), together with activists, lawyers and affected commuities to work on concrete proposals towards a binding treaty to address corporate human rights abuses. The legal proposals will be designed to shape and reflect the perspectives of affected people and those who support them in dealing first-hand with corporate human rights abuses. Experts members of the ELG are members and partners of ESCR-Net and FIDH, and reflect gender and geographic balance. 

The CAWG promoting advances in legally binding international regulation - from aspiration to action in 2014

The joint statement emanating from the 2013 ESCR-Net Peoples' Forum on Human Rights delivered a mandate to the ESCR-Net CAWG to undertake international and national level advocacy activities, together with partners around the world, to promote positions at the UN that advance stronger international regulation of corporate human rights abuses.  In 2014 CAWG members joined with organisations in over 95 countries to seek the support of UN member-states for an initiative to establish a new UN working group made up of state representatives to begin drafting a treaty to address corporate human rights violations.  The advocacy of ESCR-Net members and partners contributed to the successful passage of UN Human Rights Council Resolution 26/9 which established 'an open-ended intergovernmental working group on a legally binding instrument'. The mandate of the Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG) is 'to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises'. 

In the process leading to the passage of the Resolution ESCR-Net engaged in the following activities:

·         Met with Permanent Missions of HRC member-states on more than 25 occasions between January and June, urging support for the creation of a intergovernmental working group to discuss the drafting of a treaty to address corporate human rights violations;

·         Maintained the Treaty Alliance website, which acted as the primary information-source and support resource for organizations wishing to engage in advocacy work in many different countries;

·         Constructed a contact database containing over 600 national level partners, as well as Geneva and national capital level contacts for all current HRC member-states

·         Encouraged all organizations based in HRC member-countries that supported the Joint Statement to undertake advocacy efforts urging their governments to support the initiative, and kept them updated throughout the processes underway in Geneva;

·        Publicly advocated for support of the initative to create an Intergovernmental Working Group to develop a treaty to address corporate human rights violation, including delivering a CAWG statement at a side event held during the March 2014 Human Rights Council session, as well as distributing an associated advocacy flyer; 

·        With support from other Treaty Alliance members, drafted the series of template advocacy documents used by national partner organizations in their advocacy efforts;

·         By producing daily blog articles and constantly populating the Treaty Alliance twitter account (@TreatyAlliance) there was constant public reporting for national level partners not in Geneva on the developments underway throughout the HRC session, covering the evolving positioning of states, and the ebbing and flowing of negotiations taking place surrounding the resolution text;

·         In the final advocacy efforts in Geneva, drafted and sent communications to all HRC member permanent missions urging their support for the initiative.

For a fuller description of the ESCR-Net CAWG activities that took place between January and June 2014 on this activity, download the summary document here. Also available in Spanish

Following the successful passage of the UN HRC Resolution that established the Intergovernmental Working Group, the CAWG released a Press Release. Throughout 2015 the CAWG will remain actively monitor and constructively engage in the activities of the Intergovernmental Working Group.  

A long history of advocacy for stronger international standards

  • CAWG's Evolving Advocacy Position: Medellin, Colombia - August 2013

In 2013 the CAWG maintained a focus on the activities of the UN Working Group on Business & Human Rights.  Members of the CAWG attended the UN Regional Forum for Latin America and the Caribbean on Business & Human Rights in Medellin, Colombia, between August 28-30.  CAWG delivered an intervention during a meeting arranged by the UN Working Group for engagement civil society on the day before the Regional Forum began.  Together with our strong regional member, Dejusticia, CAWG arranged meetings for our members and other civil society partners before and after the event, producing summary notes from this latter meeting. The UN Working Group responded to our intervention with a letter that addressed each point we raised. 

  • Creating Space for Civil Society Views at the UN - 2012

CAWG members also contributed many submissions to the UN Working Group in 2012, including a joint oral statement to XXth session of the Human Rights Council, and attended the inaugural UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in December of that year, coordinating civil society consultations on the sidelines. The CAWG also contributed to the recently released general comment 'On State obligations regarding the impact of the business sector on children's rights', developed by the Committee on the Rights of the Child.  The CAWG is also working closely with UN Special Rapporteurs, bringing urgent cases of corporate human rights violations to their attention, and supporting their efforts to transmit allegation letters and urgent appeal to companies and their home governments.

  • Pre-2012

Prior to the current advocacy activities in this area, the Corporate Accountability Working Group (CAWG) has engaged in UN advocacy on developing stronger international standards since the process to form the 'Norms on the responsibilities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises with regard to human rights'.  The CAWG was then heavily involved in the process to form the UN 'Protect, Respect and Remedy: a Framework for Business and Human Rights' and the subsequent 'Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights'.  Advocacy from the CAWG contributed significantly to broadening the consultation process for the development of the Guiding Principles, ensuring regional consultations were conducting, ensuring input from groups across the globe.