We present comments on the draft treaty on business and human rights

On February 28, we presented to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OACNUDH) a report with comments on the draft ‘Elements‘ for the binding treaty on business and human rights.

In 2017, during the third session of the Intergovernmental Working Group for the Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights, a draft of elements to be included in the legally binding instrument was presented. The purpose of this document was to reflect the contributions made by the States and other relevant parties within the framework of the first two sessions. These were dedicated to the development of constructive deliberations on the content, scope, nature and form of the future international instrument. Once the third session was over, the States and other interested parties were invited to submit comments on the aforementioned draft.

Convinced that this process must move forward to finalize the legally binding agreement, a report was presented with comments and proposals for the text of the treaty. Among the most important points highlighted, the reference was made to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which is an example of how international regulations can deal with the impacts of transnational corporations on DD In addition, taking the same instrument as a reference, the need to reaffirm certain principles was highlighted: (1) the protection of the space for public decision-making, (2) the principle of progressivity in the fulfillment of human rights and (3) the environmental precautionary principle. These enumerated points become of vital importance, in the sense that they refer to the protection of Human Rights prior to the generation of any damage.

With reference to the actors involved, it was requested that the Multilateral Development Banks be included in the text. This, taking into consideration that this type of institutions, have traditionally been exempted from compliance with international regulations, claiming that their charters do not force them to consider human rights obligations when carrying out their activities.

In relation to the obligations of the States, the report presented by FUNDEPS highlighted:

  • The need to ensure transparency in interactions with transnational corporations with representatives of the State.
  • The establishment of mechanisms to prevent situations of conflict of interest.
  • The need for protection of human rights defenders.
  • The inclusion of impact assessments in human rights, ensuring the incorporation of the gender perspective.

We consider it of particular relevance that this process progresses in accordance with the mandate granted to the Intergovernmental Group. A legally binding instrument in this area is necessary in order to effectively and fully guarantee respect for human rights. In a scenario of globalization and transnationalization of financial and commercial activities, the national legislation is not enough to enforce the responsibility of protect for the DD.HH. In this regard, multinational companies must be accountable for their activities and operations; and for this, it is necessary to have an instrument of this caliber.

More information

Advancing towards a binding treaty on transnational corporations and human rights
Effective access to reparation measures at the center of the debate of the 6th United Nations Forum

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Agustina Palencia


Juan Carballo – juanmcarballo@fundeps.org