FIDH, SOMO and the Asser Institute organise an expert meeting on the UN treaty on Business and Human Rights

Press release

On the 1st February 2019 FIDH, SOMO and the Asser Institute have organised an expert meeting in the Hague, with the aim to contribute to the ongoing discussions on the draft of a ‘Legally Binding Instrument to Regulate, in International Human Rights Law, the Activities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises’.

The objective of this meeting was to bring together academic experts and a selected audience to reflect on the provisions of the so-called Zero Draft of the treaty, and feed CSOs and state delegations’ with concrete proposals and contributions for the further improvement of the treaty. [See the agenda with attending experts attached]

To do so more effectively, the discussion focused on two specific themes in the Zero Draft: Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD) and civil liability. HRDD is currently enshrined in Article 9 (Prevention) while civil liability is dealt with under Article 10 (Legal Liability). These issues were selected due to their particular importance for the business and human rights discussion.

Since the adoption of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in 2011, HRDD has become a fundamental element in the operationalisation of business responsibility to respect human rights and of the State duty to protect human rights from corporate abuses. It is therefore essential to carefully assess the way in which a future binding treaty will prevent human rights abuses by corporations by integrating this element and require its implementation by businesses throughout the world.

Another much-discussed issue in the business human rights context is the question of access to remedy in national courts for rights-holders, especially under civil law. Improving access to civil remedy for alleged victims of human rights violations is essential to ensure effective prevention and redress through compliance by businesses with HRDD and human rights. Consequently, FIDH, SOMO and the Asser Institute considered it crucial to discuss the place given to civil liability in the draft treaty, particularly in connection with the article on HRDD.

On the basis of the exchanges and reflections issued by this meeting, FIDH and SOMO have sent a contribution to the Chair of the IGWG charged to elaborate the treaty.

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