We live in a world where corporations have unprecedented powers. Every day, transnational corporations impact ordinary people – from exploiting workers and destroying the environment, to avoiding taxes and devastating communities through extraction. They do this with almost complete impunity because they have seized unprecedented influence over governments and decision makers.
Until now, corporations have ensured that almost all guidelines and policies urging corporations to uphold the rights of ordinary people are voluntary and not enforceable. This could be about to change.
The United Nations (UN) has put forward an historic proposal that could hold transnational corporations and other business enterprises to account for corporate abuses under international human rights law. The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is calling on governments to work on developing a set of legally-binding rules for these transnational corporations in relation to human rights known as “the UN treaty”. This treaty could protect people from human rights abuses by corporations and bring corporate actors to justice.
This treaty looks set to be truly impactful for communities negatively affected by big business. There are already hundreds of organisations and social movements helping to shape the content, and CIDSE is one of them.
Unfortunately the European Union isn’t so keen and has so far been boycotting the negotiations. From trade deals such as CETA or TTIP that allow businesses to sue governments, to using foreign aid projects as business investment opportunities – the EU has a habit of securing privileged treatment for the corporations registered in their countries.
Help bring justice to victims of corporate abuse, and uphold the rights of ordinary people. Tell the EU that we need a binding treaty on business and human rights!
I am very concerned about the absence of the EU and its member states from the negotiations on a UN Treaty on TNCs and other business enterprises with respect to human rights. This treaty, if adopted, could provide an historic opportunity for justice. People across the world who are suffering in the face of reckless transnational corporations will finally have the opportunity to hold them to account.
I am ashamed that the EU is undermining this important process by refusing to take part in discussions. I am joining citizens from across Europe to demand that our governments formally support the UN treaty process and do so through participating in good faith in the discussions on the nature, content and scope of the treaty taking place in Geneva in October 2016.
During these talks, we want states to consider the below points to be the basic premise of the UN treaty:
1. The treaty must introduce enforceable legislation to prevent human rights violations and stop the impunity of corporate actors for those abuses, and require them to redress adverse human rights abuses wherever they operate.
2. The treaty must allow people who have a claim against a business to access justice, not only in their own home states, but in all other states that have jurisdiction over the concerned business.
3. The treaty must contain provisions requiring states to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights and to facilitate access to justice of affected communities as well as of the work of human rights defenders and whistle-blowers.
Sign the petition here.