“The treaty represents the hope to put an end to the architecture of corporate abuse and impunity, which currently drags communities and the environment down into helplessness and destruction.”
The initiative towards an international binding human rights instrument to regulate the activities of transnational corporations (TNCs) has been strongly driven by social movements and civil society organizations worldwide. These have been denouncing corporate human rights abuses such as land grabbing, the pollution of natural resources, and slave-like working conditions as well as pointing to the lack of any meaningful binding mechanisms enabling individuals and communities to access justice. In addition, feminist groups have been joining the movement, thereby addressing the specific impacts that corporate operations have on girls’ and women’s everyday lives.
Because of their significant economic power and operation through complex transnational structures, TNCs are able to escape from accountability. It is this existing state of impunity for affected individuals and communities which led the UN Human Rights Council to create an open-ended intergovernmental working group with the mandate to elaborate a treaty on TNCs, other business enterprises, and human rights. A draft treaty has recently been published and will serve as a basis for negotiations, which will commence in October 2018.