Partner Side Event | 21 September
Diplomatic Briefing on the Legally Binding Instrument on TNC’s and Human Rights
Hosted by: Asia Task Force on the Legally Binding Treaty and International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
The Asia Task Force on the Legally Binding Instrument (ATF) and the ESCR-Net will coordinate and implement advocacy missions in Asia to promote the implementation of UN Human Rights Council Resolution 26/9 passed in 2014, which established an open-ended intergovernmental working group (IGWG) with a mandate to develop an international legally binding human rights treaty to regulate the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises. Our mission will aim to strongly encourage some key States in Asia to participate effectively and meaningfully in the IGWG process and in the negotiations of the current draft text of the treaty or legally binding instrument (LBI) - in a way that corresponds with the demands of affected communities.
For years, our member organizations have been taking collective action to advance an international binding treaty on human rights and business. Around the world, civil society, social movements, affected communities -as well as human and environmental rights defenders are confronting widespread and systematic human rights abuses and violations related to business activities. This trend is intensified by corporate capture of government decision-making, barriers to effective regulation in both the home and host States of corporations - particularly transnational corporations, and a failure to ensure effective access to remedy and accountability. Countries in the Global South face particular challenges in securing remedy for harms to their communities and environment by large transnational corporations headquartered in the Global North. The governments are essentially stuck with the costs and other long term consequences of such damages. In 2014, six Asian States voted in support of Resolution 26/9 paving the way for the process towards stronger binding international regulations on TNCs and other business enterprises. For more than a decade, ESCR-Net members have been taking collective action to advance the development of a clear and comprehensive international human rights framework on corporate accountability, including an international binding treaty on human rights and business.
We believe that a regional and national outreach in the Global South is important to counter attacks on the IGWG process by the corporate sector and States, particularly in the Global North, seemingly prioritizing corporate interests. The goal of this outreach would be to garner support for the current text of the legally binding instrument as a valuable starting point for negotiations and to push back against corporate capture of the process. Existing elements of legal liability, extraterritoriality and a provision on conflicts of interest are clearly seen as a threat to corporate impunity, power and profits, leading to resistance from governments that have apparently prioritized corporate interests over the realization of human rights.
It is our view that in order to move the process forward towards a robust legally binding instrument, that the concerns expressed by civil society, social movement and affected communities be addressed, and the negotiating text be further strengthened to reflect the utmost protection of human rights, consistent with the mandate and the spirit of UN resolution 26/9. It is troubling that some States in the Global North call for the text to be replaced by another toothless foundation, particularly when hundreds civil society and social movements have shared much of their lived experiences, legal expertise and input, which has in part been integrated into the current text of the draft legally binding instrument.
At the margins of the United Nations Responsible Business and Human Rights Forum-Asia-Pacific, ATF and ESCR-Net aim to have a conversation with States including diplomatic missions, Inter-Governmental Organizations, International Organizations, United Nation agencies and National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI), to mobilize support to the UN process on the LBI, reinforce the key positions of civil society.
Introductions and objective setting
Recent Developments on the LBI
What are key developments on the negotiation of the proposed LBI on TNC’s and Human Rights?
Why is it important for States, UN, NHRI, Inter-governmental Organizations, NGO’s and CSO to engage in the process?
What are the key positions of civil society?
What are good practices of States in their engagement in the process?
Moderator: Emilie Palamy Pradichit, Manushya Foundation
Asia Task Force on the LBI
The Asia Task Force (ATF) on the Legally Binding Treaty was established in November 2017 at the sidelines of the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/Peoples Forum (ACSC/APF 2017) held in Manila. The Task Force aims to develop and advance a campaign in Asia towards the LBI and greater corporate accountability with strong engagements with States in the context of the LBI negotiations, as well as public engagement to heighten awareness on the need for stronger TNC regulations and accountability.
ESCR-Net - International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights connects over 280 NGOs, social movements and advocates across more than 75 countries to build a global movement to make human rights and social justice a reality for all. For more than a decade, members of the Network have been taking collective action to advance the development of the LBI as part of the IGWG process. We believe that a regional and national outreach in the Global South is important to counter attacks on the IGWG process by the corporate sector and States, particularly in the Global North, who are prioritizing corporate interests.
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