| 10-07-2015

A victory vis-a-vis the upcoming UN Treaty on TNCs and human rights

Despite the EU’s pro-business attempts to derail the talks, discussions at the first UN IGWG session were enriching and fruitful.

The first session of the historic United Nations negotiations towards a treaty on Transnational Corporations (TNCs) and other business enterprises with regards to human rights, concludes today, following five days of inspiring talks on the need for a legally binding instrument. Civil society, expert panelists and many States engaged constructively in the negotiations, despite intense EU efforts to derail the talks. 

During the opening session of the Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG) the EU objected to the agenda for the meeting, and demanded an extension of the IGWG mandate agreed in     UN Human Rights Council Resolution 26/9.  Although these demands caused an impasse of several hours, it was overcome once it became clear that no State would give support to this proposal. 

Hot on the heels of the recent push by Europe's most powerful States to undermine the rights of the Greek people with ever increasing austerity measures in the interest of financial institutions, the actions of the EU during the current session of the IGWG appeared to indicate that they prioritize business interests over human rights. 

"The Treaty Alliance organizations came to Geneva to call for constructive State engagement and to ensure any future treaty will focus on accountability for TNCs and access to remedy and justice for people affected. With the shameful exceptions of the EU, USA and several other rich countries, the States who were present should be commended for their engagement with this vital process,” stresses Anne van Schaik, Sustainable Finance Campaigner with     Friends of the Earth Europe. “People cannot wait for their rights. By our presence here in Geneva, we are reminding engaged States to stay the course, and insisting that absent States get on board. We're here to remind them that the world is watching!" she adds.  
For her part, Brid Brennan, from the Global Campaign to     Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity, states: "We believe the Representative of the EU Delegation has no official formal mandate to corral 28 member states into silence on such an important matter as human rights and transnational corporations. As civil society organizations and social movements, present here in the UN today, we protest the disruptive behavior of the EU, and we challenge the EU member states to declare their position on this matter, and not simply repeat the EU stance".

Assessing the first UN IGWG session, Rolf Künnemann, Human Rights Director of FIAN International, concludes: “The participating states, legal experts and civil society worked hard and successfully to get key human rights issues on the table. The Treaty Alliance contributed a variety of views in order to enrich the debate. Diversity of views is a strength. We insist that the EU replaces disruptive tactics with an honest dialogue, in good faith. The Treaty Alliance will be on alert during the intersessional period and intensify its mobilization.”

The members of the     Treaty Alliance, continuing their close collaboration through their mobilization efforts and united by their     joint statement, will follow up the process, enriching the democratic debate with their perspectives and experiences from across the world. 
The first session of the open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights convened in Geneva on July 6-10 to begin the task of elaborating a treaty for business and human rights.

For media enquiries please contact     delrey[at]fian.org 
For information about FIAN International’s interventions during the IGWG, please click     here