Binding UN treaty on business and human rights

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.

After three sessions dedicated to conducting constructive deliberations on the content, scope, nature, and form of the future international instrument', following the UNHRC mandate, 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.

In this context, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is drafting an own-initiative opinion on A binding UN Treaty for Business and Human Rights. With a view to gathering knowledge during the preparatory works for the above-mentioned opinion from a wide range of experts and other civil society stakeholders a hearing is organised at the EESC premises.