Global Campaign reports Canada opposed to UN process for a Binding Treaty on transnational corporations and human rights
From October 26-30, the United Nations open-ended intergovernmental working group (IGWG) held its 6th session discussions on the Second Revised Draft of the Binding Treaty on transnational corporations and human rights.
On a PBI-United Kingdom webinar this past July, PBI-Colombia accompanied Yessika Hoyos from the Jose Alvear Restrepo Lawyers Collective (CCAJAR) commented: “Many companies together with the states have been blocking this issue.”
Earlier this year, the Brussels-based Equal Times news website reported: “Progress is very slow, with countries such as the United States, Russia, China and Brazil doing everything they can to block the process.”
Following the 6th session, the Global Campaign of 250 social movements supporting the Binding Treaty highlighted “the countries whose economies rely heavily on transnational corporations with overseas operations who have always opposed this UN process, such as the United States, Japan, Canada and Australia…”
The statement by the Global Campaign on Canada’s opposition to the Binding Treaty provides us with an update on Oxfam Canada’s comment that: “Canadian government officials have been largely absent from the process so far.”
Additionally, the European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ) reported: “The United Kingdom was the only state to echo the position of the International Chamber of Commerce and the International Organisation of Employers by calling the scope of the draft ‘too vague to be workable’ and the draft text ‘inconsistent with principles of international law’, without providing further explanation.”
The Global Campaign further notes: “As in previous negotiation rounds, the European Union – whose member states voted in block against resolution 26/9 [the UN resolution that launched the Binding Treaty process in 2014] – failed to contribute to the text negotiations.” The ECCJ adds: “The participation of the EU as a bloc was unsurprisingly disappointing. Even after six years, the EU still does not have a negotiating mandate, even though the revised text addresses most of the EU’s previously raised concerns.”
The ECCJ also reports that “various states, such as Cuba, the Philippines, Pakistan, Venezuela, Mozambique and Egypt, spoke in support of the legally binding process” with cautions about its scope, while “many states (Brazil, Namibia, Iran, Russia, Mozambique, Panama, Mexico, Philippines, Ecuador, Armenia, Ethiopia, Holy See and Palestine) engaged with the text with specific proposals for changes.”
The Global Campaign adds that supportive countries include South Africa, Cuba, Egypt, Azerbaijan and Namibia.
PBI & the Binding Treaty
Speaking in March 2018, prior to the 4th session on the Binding Treaty, PBI-Switzerland stated: “PBI reiterates the importance of the participation of civil society and human rights defenders as crucial to the success of the process.”
In June 2018, PBI-UK launched a Human Rights Defenders Toolbox with PBI-Colombia accompanied CCAJAR “to address the fact that, despite the existence of [the UN’s Guiding Principles], gaps in their implementation mean that human rights defenders confronting corporate interests still face escalating violence.”
In September 2018, PBI-Mexico commented: “After 7 years of the Guiding Principles being in force, PBI has not witnessed an improvement in the situation of risk for human rights defenders on the ground. PBI believes that a Binding Treaty … could potentially lead to greater protection of human rights defenders working on business and human rights cases.”
PBI-Canada is following the Binding Treaty process with great interest. This past September, we launched an Urgent Action petition calling on the Prime Minister and Canada’s representatives at the UN to support the creation of a legally-binding Treaty that recognizes the important role played by human rights defenders.