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A stronger commitment is needed for binding UN treaty

9 November, 2021At the end of last month, the 7th round of discussions on the UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights took place in Geneva. IndustriALL, together with the ITUC and other global unions, are calling on all governments to step up and fully support negotiations which will continue next year.

Following the conclusion of the latest round of discussions, involving governments, company representatives, unions and civil society organisations, unions are also critical of business associations for their lack of commitment to successful negotiations.

If successfully negotiated, a binding UN treaty would represent an important step in establishing the accountability of corporations in international law and would improve access to remedy for people affected by human rights violations. But to achieve that, the US and the EU must give their full support to the negotiations.

Says IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan:

“Covid-19 has exposed the deficiencies of unsustainable global supply chains, particularly relying on voluntary reporting mechanisms without the ability to ensure the respect for workers’ rights. The world needs binding and enforceable instruments to protect from human rights abuses and a UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights is critical. All governments, particularly in the EU and the US, must make a serious engagement. If not now, when?”

The unions, including the ITUC, ITF, BWI, EI, IndustriALL, UNI, ITF and PSI, have engaged in the process to develop a business and human rights treaty by calling for:

  • a broad substantive scope covering all internationally recognised human rights, including fundamental workers’ rights, as defined by relevant international labour standards
  • the coverage of all business enterprises, regardless of size, sector, operational context, ownership and structure
  • parent company-based extraterritorial regulation and access to justice for victims of transnational corporate human rights violations in the home State of transnational corporations
  • regulatory measures that require business to adopt and apply human rights due diligence policies and procedures
  • reaffirmation of the applicability of human rights obligations to the operations of companies and their obligation to respect human rights
  • a strong international monitoring and enforcement mechanism