Amsterdam and globally, 19 October 2017: Ahead of the next round of talks on a UN treaty on transnational corporations and human rights in Geneva on 23-27 October 2017, Friends of the Earth International is urging states to enter constructively on negotiations for a legally binding treaty to hold transnational corporations to account on human rights and environmental abuses.

Lucia Ortiz, Friends of the Earth International, said:

There are currently hundreds of legally binding agreements to protect the commercial interests of transnational corporations abroad, but no treaty to hold them to account on human rights. We need a binding treaty that will rein in abuses. Concrete treaty elements are now on the table to provide a minimum basis for negotiations, but the UN process must be protected from undue influence of big business and avoid conflict of interest of non-state actors’ participation”.

According to Friends of the Earth International and its member groups around the world, transnational corporations fuel global climate, food, financial and humanitarian crises, and their disregard for the environment and intimidation of local activists defending it must be stopped.

Apollin Koagne Zouapet, Friends of the Earth Africa, said:

“For the thousands of communities affected by corporate impunity in Africa and elsewhere, a treaty would provide the right to justice through an international tribunal. In some cases, the very survival of certain local indigenous peoples depends on it.”

Alberto Villarreal, Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean/ ATALC, said:

Transnational corporations are ravaging our territories to boost profits, but hide behind their hundreds of national identities and their chains of supply to escape responsibility for the impacts of their decisions. The corporate veil must be lifted and corporate decision makers brought to account.”

Khalisah Khalid, Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific, said:

International financial institutions and transnational corporations are currently shielded by immunity from legal suits. The treaty must enable aggrieved parties to hold corporations to account through local courts and international tribunals. It must also protect environment defenders, especially women, who are more vulnerable to pressure when defending their territories form corporate greed.”

Anne van Schaik, Friends of the Earth Europe said:

The European Commission (EC) is still very reluctant to engage in this process. Yet European citizens and the European Parliament have spoken out repeatedly in support of the treaty. France already adopted a pioneering law on duty of care for multinationals in 2017. The EC needs to embrace this opportunity and show its citizens that it cares about human rights.”

This will be the third session of the intergovernmental working group (IWG) on transnational corporations and other business enterprises on human rights. Negotiations on the draft text of the Treaty elements are expected and environmental organizations, affected communities and social movements worldwide will be mobilized to monitor the UN process and its outcomes.

A Friends of the Earth International delegation will be present at the session, including environmental justice activists, human rights defenders and representatives of affected communities from: Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, El Salvador, Finland, France, Honduras, Hungary, Indonesia, Mozambique, Netherlands, Nigeria, Russia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden and Uruguay.

Notes for editors

1) Website of the IWG on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights:

2) Website of Friends of the Earth work and positions on the UN treaty process and transnational corporations:

3) Human rights abuses by the biggest companies are rife, more than 10 cases available at Friends of the Earth recent reports:

The Rights of People facing Corporate Power in Latin America (Spanish):

Challenging corporate impunity: IFIs Immunity, Corporate Crimes and Environmental Defenders Protection in Asia Pacific: 

4) French Law on Duty of Care for Multinationals can show the way forward on the European context, see report: End of the road for transnational corporations? Human rights and environment: from a groundbreaking French law to a UN Treaty (French):

5) Website for the Week of Mobilization in Geneva, led by Friends of the Earth member groups and allies:

Spokespeople available all week in Geneva:

Lucia Ortiz, Economic Justice International Program Coordinator, Friends of the Earth International: +55 48 99915 0071 or

Anne van Schaik, Friends of the Earth Europe (Netherlands): +31 6 243 43968 or

Juliette Renaud, Friends of the Earth France: +33 6 37 65 56 40 or

Alberto Villarreal, Trade and Investment Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean/ ATALC (Uruguay): +598 98 556 360 or

Khalisah Khalid Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific (Indonesia): +62813 1118 7498 or

Apollin Koagne Zoupet, Friends of the Earth Africa (Cameroon): +237 754 18644 or

Karin Nansen, Friends of the Earth International Chair: +598 98 707 161 or

For general media enquiries:

About Friends of the Earth International

Friends of the Earth International is the world’s largest grassroots environmental network, uniting 75 national member groups and some two million members and supporters around the world. We challenge the current model of economic and corporate globalization, and promote solutions that will help to create environmentally sustainable and socially just societies: