Position paper / Contribution to the mandate of the UN special representative on Transnational Corporations & Human Rights

This position paper seeks to contribute to the mandate of the
Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the Issue of
Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and other
Business Enterprises, Mr. John Ruggie.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) welcomes
the Special Representative’s interim report of February 22,
2006, which it sees as a first step towards the fulfilment of the
mandate as defined in Resolution 2005/69 of the United
Nations Commission on Human Rights.

The interim report offers an excellent diagnosis of the challenges
facing transnational corporations in a globalized world, and
recognized the need for an improved accountability of these
actors, commensurate with the influence they exercise.

The report explores existing responses to these challenges. The
FIDH shares the view that voluntary initiatives however valuable
have limited applicability, as they apply to certain sectors and
certain actors only, and refer to different standards. The FIDH
agrees with the SRSG that the challenge for the human rights
community is to make the promotion and protection of human
rights a more standard and uniform corporate practice. The
FIDH believes that this will be achieved through the adoption of
universal standards applicable to all companies.

In the view of the FIDH, corporate self-regulation and voluntary
initiatives inadequately ensure the achievement of human rights
in areas of business activity. As powerful actors on the world
stage, transnational corporations and other businesses must be
held accountable for their decisions, which deeply affect the
human rights of individuals and communities. It is to be noted
that support to such an approach has been shared by major
actors of the business community as well as trade unions. Such
promising stands should be strengthened rather that set aside.

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