2021 will see the 10th anniversary of the Guiding Principles and the 7th session on a Binding Treaty

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: Bertha Zúñiga Cáceres, the general coordinator of the PBI-Honduras accompanied Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), is part of the campaign supporting the creation of a Binding Treaty.

Peace Brigades International has long supported a Binding Treaty on transnational corporations and human rights as an instrument that would offer more leverage and protection to human rights defenders, notably land and environmental rights defenders.

This past October 26-30, the United Nations open-ended intergovernmental working group (OEIGWG) held its 6th session on the second revised draft of the Binding Treaty.

In terms of key dates for the Binding Treaty process in 2021:

February – States have been asked to fill in two matrix templates that ask for: 1) concrete textual suggestions and expressions of support, and 2) general comments and requests for clarification.

March – The two template matrices noted above will be compiled and distributed by the Secretariat no later than the end of March.

July – The Chair-Rapporteur has been requested to prepare a third revised draft by the end of July to serve as the basis for the 7th session of the OEIGWG.

October – While it does not appear a specific date has been set yet, previous sessions of the OEIGWG have taken place in October.

The Binding Treaty faces obstacles.

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.”

Those countries reportedly include Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Russia and China.

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.”

And 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.”

They added: “PBI believes that a Binding Treaty could potentially lead to greater protection of human rights defenders working on business and human rights cases.”

The Guiding Principles on business and human rights were endorsed by the Human Rights Council through resolution 17/4 on June 16, 2011.

With the 10th anniversary of the Guiding Principles in June and the 7th session of negotiations on the Binding Treaty in October, PBI-Canada will continue to support a legally-binding Treaty that recognizes the important role played by human rights defenders.

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