Opening of the second session of the UN Intergovernmental Working Group on Human Rights and Businesses

Press release
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The second session of the UN open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, mandated to elaborate an international binding instrument on this issue, opens in Geneva today.

This session will be dedicated to discussing the content, scope, nature and form of the future international instrument, in accordance with HRC resolution 26/9 of June 2014 establishing the intergovernmental working group. The session’s programme of work and list of side events are available here.
FIDH actively participated in the first working group session, which took place in July 2015.

Ahead of this second session, FIDH submitted a written statement highlighting key issues to be addressed by the Treaty, reflecting FIDH and its member organisations’ experiences. It calls among other things on making access effective remedy a priority and on ensuring that the instrument will reflect the needs and priorities of those affected by corporate abuse.

In addition, Ten Key Proposals for the Treaty, developed in the framework of the joint ESCR-Net and FIDH Treaty Initiative project, were submitted to the working group ahead of the session. These concrete legal proposals were developed on the basis of worldwide consultations with civil society organisations, activists, representative of affected communities and grassroot groups, with the help of a Legal Group composed of international legal practitioners. The civil society consultations were carried out over two years in Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East, Latin America and online. ESCR-Net and FIDH will organise a side event on Monday October 24th, from 1pm to 2.45pm in Room XXIII, where CSOs from Africa, Asia and Latin America debate their priorities for the treaty, together with Ecuador and other states.

FIDH is an active member of the Treaty Alliance, which issued a fourth collective statement ahead if the working group’s second session. The members of the Treaty Alliance will be organising several side events during the session.

FIDH has been calling for the reinforcement of normative standards at the international, regional and national levels and for the establishment of robust redress and enforcement mechanisms for many years (see for example Position Paper of March 2014). It sees this treaty development process as a key opportunity to ensure protection of and redress for groups and individuals affected by human rights violations by business enterprises. This process is seen as complementary to and mutually-reinforcing with other efforts to ensure corporate accountability, including by strengthening national legal frameworks and by ensuring States comply with their extraterritorial obligations.

FIDH calls on all States to actively engage and to participate in good faith to the intergovernmental working group sessions.

An FIDH delegation will participate in the second intergovernmental working group session throughout the week: stay tuned and follow us!

Read ESCR-Net and FIDH’s Ten Key Proposals for the Treaty here
Read FIDH’s written Submission here

Read FIDH SOMO CIDSE IBFAN FoEE’s oral statement on need for Treaty to address challenges posed by trade and investment agreements here.

Read FIDH and ICJ’s statement on legal liability of business entreprises here.

Read FIDH, Al Haq, BFTW, CIDSE, SOMO, ICJ, IBFAN-GIFA’s oral statement on scope here.

Read FIDH and ICJ’s joint oral statement on complementarity between the UNGPs and the Treaty process here.

Read FIDH, SOMO, CIDSE, FIDH, Friends of the Earth Europe, IBFAN-GIFA and BFTW on access to remedy here.

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