Towards a binding instrument for business and human rights

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Non-binding international guidelines currently exist regarding businesses' implementation of human rights. However, human rights abuses by corporations persist. These instruments do not get to the core of the discussion on maximum protection of human rights and access to remedies. According to critics, this is possibly due to the absence of a central mechanism to ensure their implementation, and to their non-binding character.

A legally binding instrument on business and human rights could help fill the current gaps and failings of the international legal framework, particularly regarding access to justice while providing more specific standards, and help define companies’ responsibilities and establish liabilities, such as providing for mandatory due diligence.

The European Economic and Social Committee has already adopted opinions on the issue of global value chains and corporate social responsibility, but has not been able to deliver an opinion on a legally binding instrument on business and human rights.  

The EESC Workers' Group will host this workshop to give a strong signal to the Committee, the European Parliament and to the other institutions that it views fundamental rights across the world as the basis for fair economic relations and therefore a supporter of the binding treaty initiative. Civil society organisations are very supportive of the project and have been strongly involved in the UN process.