sef: Policy lunch: Bridging the gap – How to reconcile the EU with a UN treaty on business and human rights

Event Details


Facebook live recording

In 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council established the Work­ing Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises. At that time, it seemed feasible to increase the accountability of businesses for the protection of human rights. Creating a binding UN treaty could enhance the access to effective remedy for victims of business-related human rights violations. In July 2018, the Working Group presented a zero draft of a legally binding treaty on business and human rights.

There has been strong support for such a treaty from developing and emerging economies. However, Western countries and entities including the European Union have shown scepticism towards a UN treaty throughout the negotiations. The European Union even disassociated itself from the conclu­sions of the working group reached at its fourth session.

During the fifth session in October 2019, the members of the open-ended working group will negotiate a revised version of last year’s zero draft. The Policy Lunch will provide first-hand insights into the negotiations from observers and participants in the debate. How was the revised draft received by the advocates of a treaty and the sceptics? Does it show the way to close the gap between developing countries that support a binding treaty in op­position to developed countries? And with a newly elected European Parlia­ment and incoming Commission, what role will the European Union play in the negotiations?


12.30: WELCOME

  • Susanne Metzler, Deputy Director, Representation of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia to the EU, Brussels
  • Dr Gerd Harms, Deputy Chairperson of the Executive Committee, Development and Peace Foundation (sef:), Bonn


  • Dr Nadia Bernaz, Associate Professor Law and Governance, University of Wageningen
  • Kinda Mohamadieh, Legal Advisor and Senior Researcher, Third World Network, Geneva
  • Luisa Ragher, Head of Division EEAS Global.1 Human Rights, European External Action Service (EEAS), Brussels

Chair: Denise Auclair, Senior Advisor (CIDSE), Brussels

Followed by discussion with the audience



To participate, please register in advance at www.sef-bonn.org/en/seflunch19

Conference language: English

Programme pdf version


  • Are the EU going to miss the boat on the UN binding Treaty? CIDSE statement, 18 October 2019
  • CIDSE contribution to the 5th Session of the Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Respect to Human Rights (Geneva, 14-18 October 2019) (ENESFR)



Share this content on social media