FIDH releases its preliminary comment on the "Zero Draft" treaty on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises and Human Rights

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Today, FIDH releases its preliminary comment on the « Zero Draft » Convention and Optional Protocol to be discussed during the upcoming fourth session of the United Nations Intergovernmental Working Group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights (IGWG), that will take place from October 15th to 19th in Geneva.

Since 2014 and the adoption of a resolution at the Human Rights Council, negotiations between States have been held to elaborate a binding international treaty that would increase corporate accountability and access to justice for victims of corporate human rights abuse. After three sessions which produced mixed results, the release of the zero draft documents offers an opportunity to have meaningful debates between State delegations, overcoming procedural obstacles, and focusing on advancing towards consensus on concrete language.

The comment published today aims at providing substantial input for the negotiations; drawing on FIDH’s experience as a federation of human rights organizations operating all around the world. It cites both positive aspects of the text – such as the centrality of victims’ rights, the obligation to adopt mandatory due diligence, and the focus on liability - and points where further development is imperatively needed. It emphasizes that the zero draft especially needs to :
* Reaffirm the general duty for all businesses to respect human rights in the operational part of the text
* Clarify the subjective scope of the treaty in order to avoid restrictive interpretation and exclusion of state-owned enterprises
* Include specific wording on Human Rights Defenders’ protection and recognition
* Offer improved avenues to provide effective access to justice to individuals and communities affected by corporate abuses all along the value chain
* Integrate reinforced provisions regarding conflict-affected areas and integrate them to the article on prevention
* Make the notion of Human Rights Due Diligence more comprehensive and coherent with other existing international frameworks and clearly establish a link between due diligence and the corresponding parent or lead company liability in cases where human rights violations occur
* Establish a strong and effective monitoring and enforcement mechanism by substantially strengthening the provisions of the optional protocol

See full comment here

Download the full version of FIDH’s premliminary comment :

The document is a preliminary contribution based on the first version of the draft convention and optional protocol. FIDH’s positions may evolve as the negotiations advance.

FIDH will regularly inform readers with news and analyses during the fourth session of the OEIGWG in Geneva from October 15 to 19th with its “News from the negotiation!” newsletter. To sign up, click here.

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