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Significant progress needed in UN binding treaty negotiations

21 October, 2022The next round of negotiations on a UN business and human rights treaty will take place in Geneva, Switzerland, next week. Global unions vow to continue to push for a legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

Cases of abuses of workers’ rights by companies are on the rise. According to ITUC Rights Index 113 countries exclude workers from their right to establish or join a trade union, up from 106 in 2021 to 113. 87 per cent of countries violated the right to strike and four in five countries blocked collective bargaining.
Pressure has been increasing for regulatory action to hold companies accountable for human rights abuses at national and regional levels with new legislation coming into force. Next week’s negotiations for a binding treaty will put the need for action to end corporate abuses of human and labour rights in the spotlight.
Global trade unions are calling for the following priorities to be strengthened:

  • A broad substantive scope covering all internationally recognised human rights, including fundamental workers’ and trade union 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.

Says IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan:

“The world cannot continue with the current abusive and exploitative business model in the global supply chains. We need immediate regulations, binding and enforceable, for a level playing field. These negotiations have been going on for years already; we cannot wait much longer. IndustriALL Global Union, together with ITUC and other global unions, will continue to fight for a binding treaty as per our Congress action plan.”