Binding UN agreement on business and human rights (own-initiative opinion)

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Nota informativa: Binding UN agreement on business and human rights (own-initiative opinion)

Composition of the Study Group

Administrator in charge: Lucia [dot] MendezDelRioCabraateesc [dot] europa [dot] eu (Lucía Méndez del Río Cabra)

Assistant: MariaDolores [dot] CarmonaGonzalezateesc [dot] europa [dot] eu (María D. Carmona González)

Background info:

A system of corporate liability for human rights abuses is currently being negotiated in the UN, within the UNHRC’s open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises concerning human rights (OEIGWG), established by the UN General Assembly on 26 June 2014. The mandate of the working group is to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

While the EU and its Member States play a role at the OEIGWG, the Commission has no mandate from the Council to conduct negotiations on behalf of the EU concerning its participation in the OEIGWG.

This OEIGWG held the first session in October 2015 and the second in October 2016. These sessions were dedicated to conducting constructive deliberations on the content, scope, nature, and form of the future international instrument', following the UNHRC mandate. On 2 October 2017, the OEIGWG chair published Elements for the draft legally binding instrument, which were later debated at the third OEIGWG session in October 2017.

On 16 July 2018, the Permanent Mission of Ecuador, on behalf of the Chairmanship of the OEIGWG, published a Zero Draft legally binding instrument and a draft optional protocol to be annexed to it. The fourth session of the OEIGWG, held from 15 to 19 October 2018, debated this draft and marked the start of formal negotiations. There was a significant civil society presence at the session.

The Chair-Rapporteur also issued recommendations, including:

  • Inviting relevant stakeholders to submit comments and proposals on the draft of the legally binding instrument by the end of February 2019
  • Presenting a revised draft of the legally binding instrument by the end of June 2019
  • Holding informal consultations with relevant stakeholders will be held before the fifth session of the Intergovernmental Working Group