UN treaty moves towards curbing transnational corporations’ impunity, human rights violations
Geneva, Monday 30 October 2017: Friends of the Earth International welcomes the positive conclusion of the 3rd session of the Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG) on a UN treaty on transnational corporations and human rights (1), after substantive discussions on content, impressive and diverse participation of social movements and a record presence of 101 member states.
The session took place in Geneva on 23-27 October 2017.
Karin Nansen, Friends of the Earth International Chair said: “Friends of the Earth International welcomes the Chair rapporteur’s recommendations (2) and is committed to continue its active engagement towards the 4th session of the negotiations in 2018. Despite the European Union’s attempt to undermine the process towards a legally binding treaty, the constructive leadership of the presidency made it possible to arrive at a positive conclusion of the 3rd Session of the IGWG. We are looking forward for the Chair’s zero draft and next year’s negotiations.”
Hemantha Withanage, Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific, said: “We are ready to curb the impunity of transnational corporations by driving the Treaty to the next level. The time to dismantle transnational corporations’ impunity is now.”
Lucia Ortiz, Friends of the Earth International’s Economic Justice International Program Coordinator, said: “Throughout the week, the presence and voices of affected communities, social movements and indigenous peoples defending their territories, livelihoods and the commons, empowered us to challenge and dismantle the walls of impunity and colonialism.”
Alberto Villarreal, Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean, said: “The binding treaty must echo people’s demands and the supremacy of human rights over trade and investment agreements, as proposed by the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power (3) and the elements of the treaty presented by Ecuador (4).”
Apollin Koagne Zouapet, Friends of the Earth Africa, said: “The many victims, present and future, demand the right to see their humanity restored and preserved, the right to believe in justice, the right to an international tribunal. The many communities we represent demand a ‘court for life’ and we will keep pushing for it.”
During the talks, representatives from the EU argued that there were procedural and technical problems with the treaty and therefore were not sure if they could support the continuation of the process.
Anne van Schaik, Friends of the Earth Europe, said: “The threat by the EU to block the process, hiding behind technical and procedural excuses, is totally unacceptable. The Commission has always been reluctant to engage in a process to establish a treaty that would enhance access to justice for affected peoples, while there are many European companies involved in violations of human and environmental rights outside the EU. This stands in stark opposition to its ambition to advance the Multilateral Investment Court (MIC), where it estimates an annual contribution to operational costs of €5.4 million. Why not invest this time, energy and money in the establishment of a UN binding treaty?”
More than 200 civil society organizations from 80 countries mobilized in Geneva and reached out for support from capitals and parliaments, resulting in a victory to protect the treaty process. Friends of the Earth International is proud to be part of this growing and unstoppable movement to end corporate impunity and defend collective rights.
Notes for editors:
1) Official page of the 3rd session of the Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG) on UN treaty on transnational corporations and human rights: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/WGTransCorp/Session3/Pages/Session3.aspx
2) Report of the 3rd session of the IGWG on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights available soon (not yet live at time of writing) at:
3) Treaty text proposal by the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity at: https://www.stopcorporateimpunity.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Treaty_draft-EN1.pdf
4) Chair’s Treaty Elements text discussed in the 3rd IGWG session at: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/WGTransCorp/Session3/LegallyBindingInstrumentTNCs_OBEs.pdf
Human rights abuses by the biggest companies are rife, more than 10 cases and policy recommendations available at Friends of the Earth recent reports:
The Rights of People facing Corporate Power in Latin America: https://www.foei.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/ATALC_english_2017-WEB.pdf
Challenging corporate impunity: IFIs Immunity, Corporate Crimes and Environmental Defenders Protection in Asia Pacific: https://www.foei.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/APAC_english_2017-WEB.pdf
End of the road for transnational corporations? Human rights and environment: from a groundbreaking French law to a UN Treaty: https://www.foei.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/end_of_the_road_for_tncs_foef-aaf-oct17_ENG.pdf
Photographs (credit: Victor Barro):
Karin Nansen, Friends of the Earth International Chair: +598 98 707 161 or email@example.com
Lucia Ortiz, Friends of the Earth International’s Economic Justice International Program Coordinator: +55 48 99915 0071 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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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: www.foei.org