Analysis of the Third Draft of the UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights – CIDSE

Analysis of the Third Draft of the UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights

A study by Prof. Dr. Markus Krajewski, Professor of Public and International Law at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg (Germany) published by CIDSE.

The phenomenon of human rights abuses and environmental destruction resulting from European and international companies’ operations is not new. Yet, the situation has recently deteriorated with increased deforestation, land grabbing, and lethal attacks on human rights and environmental defenders globally. Voluntary guidelines and self-regulation resolutions have not proved sufficient, as many businesses refuse to take responsibility for the impact of their activities. As a result, most communities affected by the actions of corporate operations found themselves without any form of justice. A Legally Binding Instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises is an essential part of the response to the threats faced by people and the environment. A third Revised Draft of the LBI will be negotiatied in Geneva from 25 to 29 October 2021. 

In this new study published by CIDSE, Prof. Dr Markus Krajewski discusses provisions on liability for companies, applicable jurisdiction, environmental rights, and protection of human rights defenders, among others. He presents a legal analysis and textual suggestions to improve the current draft on these different issues and concludes that the Third Revised Draft should be strengthened in some areas but is ripe for negotiations. The result is an in-depth commentary and guide on crucial provisions in the current draft text.  

Josianne Gauthier, CIDSE’s Secretary-General, believes the study’s central message is that the draft could be more precise and effective to protect human rights and the environment. She agrees that time is ripe for the Treaty and that governments should seize the opportunity.

Recent developments in Europe also show the moment to regulate the behaviours of corporations has come. The French law on the devoir de vigilance, the law on corporate accountability in Germany, the law on child labour in supply chains in the Netherlands, and discussions in other EU countries all prove that there is a growing political will to tackle this issue.  

Nonetheless, the European Union is missing from the negotiation table on the UN Binding Treaty. The European Commission still lacks a mandate from the Council to engage in the process, and Member States have been mostly absent. CIDSE continues to call the EU to actively and progressively engage in the negotiations, especially given the forthcoming Directive on Sustainable Corporate Governance. As Negotiations during the 7th session will move away from general statements and towards substantial textual amendments, CIDSE hopes this legal analysis will assist negotiating State Parties who aim at improving the text to strengthen the protection of human rights and the environment and stop corporate impunity.  


Contact: Giuseppe Cioffo, Corporate Regulation Officer (cioffo(at)cidse.org)

Photo credit: Ricardo Sturck


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