CCAJAR lawyer Yessika Hoyos comments on the UN Guiding Principles and the need for a Binding Treaty

Published by Brent Patterson on

On July 8, Colombian human rights lawyer Yessika Hoyos from the Jose Alvear Restrepo Lawyers Collective (CCAJAR) took part in the Peace Brigades International-United Kingdom webinar on ‘Protecting our future through corporate accountability’.

Yessika was asked about the utility and effectiveness of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).

She responded:

“Unfortunately, our experience with the Guiding Principles from the UN is that companies do not comply with them. That’s why our collective together with other organizations have been supporting the real creation of a Binding Treaty from the UN. This has been delayed for many years. It has been discussed at the UN for many years. Many companies together with the states have been blocking this issue. They haven’t allowed for a Treaty to be created.”

PBI has also expressed concerns about the gap between the promise of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and their implementation.

In response, PBI-United Kingdom and the law firm Simmons & Simmons developed a Human Rights Defenders Toolbox that “seeks to address the fact that, despite the existence of these principles, gaps in their implementation mean that human rights defenders confronting corporate interests still face escalating violence.”

And PBI-Mexico has commented, “PBI believes that a Binding Treaty has the possibility to contribute to greater accountability for companies in relation to human rights abuses and could potentially lead to greater protection of human rights defenders working on business and human rights cases throughout the world.”

The United Nations Human Rights Council resolution (26/9) that launched the process for a Binding Treaty was adopted in July 2014, a Zero Draft (first draft) of the Treaty was released in July 2018, and a revised draft was released in July 2019.

That draft will serve as the basis for the 6th session of intergovernmental negotiations that is scheduled for October 26-30, 2020 in Geneva.

Oxfam Canada has commented: “Canadian government officials have been largely absent from the process so far.”

To watch a recording via Facebook of the 75-minute PBI-UK webinar on corporate accountability, please click here.

For further reading, please see the 12-page report co-authored by CCAJAR in July 2016 about Toronto-based Pacific E&P (since rebranded as Frontera Energy): Colombia: The human cost of oil: A Human Rights Impact Assessment on the activities of Pacific Exploration & Production Corp. in Puerto Gaitán.

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