Intergovernmental Working Group talks on business and human rights treaty begin today

Human Rights Council

Today the Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG) meets for the first time in Geneva to start elaborating a binding treaty on business and human rights. The mandate of the IGWG stems from a resolution adopted at the 26th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in June 2014. The resolution was drafted by Ecuador and South Africa, signed by Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela, and supported by 20 countries. It established the “open-ended intergovernmental working group with the mandate to elaborate an international legally binding instrument on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with respect to human rights.”

The Danish Institute for Human Rights (where I work) published this blog post today highlighting the position of National Human Rights Institutions on the issue of a binding treaty, including that such an instrument should include not only transnational companies, but “a broad range of business enterprises operating domestically.”

At the adoption of the resolution, some human rights and business advocates worried that ensuing treaty efforts could divert attention and resources away from current implementation efforts of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, in effect doing more harm than good for human rights in the short-term since treaty development processes are lengthy. Mark Taylor of the Fafo Research Foundation reflects on this debate one year in. Check it out here.

Watch the IGWG meetings live here.

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