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UNHRC has voted for a legally binding instrument to protect vulnerable communities – CIDSE

UNHRC has voted for a legally binding instrument to protect vulnerable communities

CIDSE’s work with exposed and vulnerable communities and people often brings the insufficiency of current international regulation on corporations’ responsibilities for human rights to attention.

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has voted in favour of developing a binding instrument to hold transnational corporations (TNCs) and other businesses accountable for human rights violations.

The UNHRC has approved, with 20 votes in favour, 14 against and 13 abstentions, a proposal formulated by Ecuador and South Africa to form a governmental intergroup to look at binding standards on business and human rights. See CIDSE reaction and note issued after the UNHRC.

CIDSE’s work with local organisations and communities whose rights are affected has highlighted the gaps in current international regulation of the responsibilities of transnational corporations.

CIDSE Secretary General Bernd Nilles said, “We have seen too many cases over recent years where business activities have led to violations of labour rights or rights to land, livelihood, health and a clean environment.  We call upon the governments at the UNHRC to agree to develop a treaty that would effectively protect communities and human rights defenders, who have seen their situation deteriorate in recent years, from abuses.”

Ahead of the UNHRC session, CIDSE had issued a statement and was present in Geneva where it co-sponsored a side event to bring attention to human rights violations connected to the extractive industries in Latin America, Asia and Africa, as part of a Global Week of Mobilisation which took place from June 23 to 27.

Together with Franciscans International, FIDH and ICJ, CIDSE issued another statement in favour of stronger regulation and accountability for transnational corporations.

CIDSE signed a call for a legally binding instrument, along with more than 500 civil society organizations and, together with a coalition of those organizations, published an ad in the Financial Times on June 18, calling on governments to support a UN treaty on business and human rights.

CIDSE also warmly welcomes the Statement of His Excellency Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, in favour of a binding treaty at the UNHRC. CIDSE wholeheartedly agrees with his question: “how can we convince international corporations to rise up willingly to this responsibility if no national legal obligation binds them to do so?

Parallel to the UN HRC, a tour of European Bishops visited Guatemala. The tour took place June 22 to 27, 2014 and included Mgr. Juan Antonio Aznarez Cobo from Spain, Mgr. Aloys Jousten from Belgium, Mgr. Hugh Connolly from Ireland and Mgr. Felix Gmür from Switzerland, as well as CIDSE Secretary General Bernd Nilles. The tour met indigenous communities who fight for justice, their dignity and their land, as well as communities at La Puya where, on May 23, 2014, police evicted peaceful protesters against a mining project led by Exmingua (Extracciones Mineras de Guatemala, subsidiary of Kappes Cassiday & Associates).

 

 

EN – CIDSE Press Release UNHRC
FR – CIDSE Press Release UNHRC
ES – CIDSE Press Release UNHRC
Financial Times ad June 18
EN – Invitation to Side Event in Geneva June 24