UN Human Rights Council sessions

In August 2013, at the Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights for Latin America and the Caribbean, and later at UN Human Rights Council 24th session in September 2013, the representative of Ecuador before the UN made a declaration regarding "Transnational Corporations and Human Rights". With this statement the government of Ecuador proposed a legally binding international instrument on business & human rights to be concluded within the UN system.  The instrument envisioned "would clarify the obligations of transnational corporations in the field of human rights" and "provide for the establishment of effective remedies for victims in cases where domestic jurisdiction is clearly unable to" provide them.  The declaration was supported by the African Group, the Arabic Group, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Venezuela and Peru.  Over a hundred regional and international human rights organizations and social movements welcomed the petition.  The action taken by the Ecuadorian government was ratified in Geneva at the 2nd Forum on Business and Human Rights on 3 and 4 December 2014.  In June 2014, the UN Human Rights Council adopted the resolution.

 

UN Human Rights Council 31st Session (Geneva, 29 Feb-24 Mar 2016)

On 11 March 2016, States will discuss the report of the first session of the Intergovernmental Working Group on transnational corporations and other businesses with respect to human rights.

UN Human Rights Council 26th Session (Geneva, 10-27 Jun 2014) 

UN Human Rights Council vote favor Ecuador resolution June 2014 photo credit CORE group

At the 26th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, two resolutions were tabled for adoption by the Council.  The first is a resolution drafted by Ecuador and South Africa and signed also by Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela. It was originally tabled on 19 June, then updated on 24 June. It was supported by 20 countries and directs "to establish an open-ended intergovernmental working group with the mandate to elaborate an international legally binding instrument on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with respect to human rights."  The other is a resolution drafted by Norway and supported by 44 co-sponsors and adopted by consensus by all regions. It was originally tabled on 12 June, then updated on 17 and 23 June.  It includes a request that the UN Working Group prepare a report considering, among other things, the benefits and limitations of legally binding instruments. 

On 26 June, the UN Human Rights Council adopted Ecuador and South Africa’s resolution. The votes were: 20 in favour (Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, China, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Venezuela, Vietnam), 14 against (Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Montenegro, South Korea, Romania, Macedonia, UK, USA) and 13 abstentions (Argentina, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Gabon, Kuwait, Maldives, Mexico, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, UAE). On 27 June, the Council adopted by consensus Norway's resolution.

"High tide in Lake Geneva" - our analysis of recent developments

Human Rights Watch said: "There need to be stronger human rights rules for business, but the UN’s decision to move ahead with the development of an international treaty that only covers transnational corporations is compromised by the opposition of key governments and its narrow mandate. The UN’s decision is too narrow since it only focuses on transnational corporations and will not address national or other businesses that should also be required to respect human rights." ESCR-Net Corporate Accountability Working Group released a statement calling on governments at the Human Rights Council to ensure that all business enterprises, not just transnational corporations, are the subject of new normative international developments.

The International Organisation of Employers (IOE) said in a statement that it "deeply regrets" that the adoption of the Ecuador resolution has broken the unanimous consensus on business and human rights achieved three years ago with the endorsement of the UN Guiding Principles; that the vote is a "genuine setback" to the efforts underway to improve human rights and access to remedy on the ground; and that the Human Rights Council has decided to return to "approaches which have failed in the past and which are diametrically opposed to the goal of quickly advancing the implementation" of the Guiding Principles.

[DOC] Elaboration of an international legally binding instrument on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with respect to human rights
Ecuador & So. Africa's draft resolution tabled for adoption by the UN Human Rights Council, 24 Jun 2014
Signed by Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, South Africa, Venezuela 
[PDF] version of 19 Jun 2014

[DOC] Human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises
Norway's draft resolution tabled for adoption by the UN Human Rights Council, 23 Jun 2014 
Signed by Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Colombia, France, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Iceland, India, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Serbia,the former Yugoslavia, Turkey 
[PDF] version of 17 Jun 2014
[PDF] version of 12 Jun 2014 

Resolution «Human Rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises» adopted in the Human Rights Council
Permanent Mission of Norway in Geneva, 27 Jun 2014

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Commentaries & media coverage

Significant vote at the UN Human Rights Council: ray of hope to address corporate abuses, yet important concerns remain
Intl. Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), 9 Jul 2014

Binding and non-binding as they please
Thalif Deen, Nation (Sri Lanka), 6 Jul 2014

Center of Concern Welcomes Decision by UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to Move Towards a Treaty to Hold Transnational Corporations (TNCs) Accountable to Human Rights
Center of Concern, 3 Jul 2014

UN to outlaw corporations' human rights abuses
Lucia Ortiz, The Ecologist, 1 Jul 2014

UN to draft treaty on human rights violation by multinationals
Nitin Sethi, Business Standard, 1 Jul 2014

Human Rights Council: Historic resolution adopted for a legally binding instrument on TNCs
Kinda Mohamadieh, Third World Network, 30 Jun 2014

UN Business & Human Rights Framework: Engaging new action at national and international level to stop abuses, CIDSE, 30 Jun 2014

Despite Contentious Treaty Vote, Employers Reaffirm Commitment to UN Principles on Business and Human Rights
United States Council for International Business, 30 Jun 2014

ICC disappointed by Ecuador Initiative adoption
International Chamber of Commerce, 30 Jun 2014

Human Rights Council renews mandate of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, FIDH, 28 Jun 2014

After Losing Vote, U.S.-EU Threaten to Undermine Treaty
Thalif Deen, IPS News, 28 Jun 2014

Human Rights Council adopts major resolutions on business and human rights but misses opportunity to protect defenders
International Service for Human Rights, 27 Jun 2014

[PDF] Statement of the ESCR-Net Corporate Accountability Working Group, 26 Jun 2014 

Ireland Reiterates Commitment to Business and Human Rights, Votes Against Resolution on Binding Standards
Shane Darcy (Irish Centre for Human Rights), on Business & Human Rights in Ireland, 27 Jun 2014

Consensus on Business and Human Rights Is Broken With the Adoption of the Ecuador Initiative
International Organisation of Employers (IOE), 26 Jun 2014

Huge Group Demand Binding Standards at “Stop Corporate Crimes and Impunity” Picket and Impunity Tour
Nora Mardirossian, Treaty Alliance, 26 Jun 2014

Friends of the Earth Europe calls on EU to stop sabotaging UN action against corporate human rights abuses
Treaty Alliance, 25 Jun 2014

Radio interview on the call for a binding treaty with Ana Maria Suarez Franco from FIAN International
Treaty Alliance, 25 Jun 2014

CSOs urge PH government to push for HR binding treaty in Geneva
Jaybee Garganera, ATM , 24 Jun 2014

Decisive 24 Hours: Treaty Alliance Organizations in Geneva Hope for Sincere Attempts to Combine Resolutions
Nora Mardirossian, Treaty Alliance, 25 Jun 2014

[PDF] Support at the U.N. Human Rights Council for a Resolution to Begin a Process for Establishing a Treaty on the Issue of Business and Human Rights
Okereke Chinwike (African Law Foundation), Legborsi Saro Pyagara (Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People), Nelson Nnanna Nwafor (Foundation For Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development), 23 Jun 2014

Side Event: Towards an international legally binding instrument on business and human rights
ACT Alliance, CIDSE, Fastenopfer, Franciscans International, MISEREOR and OMCT, 24 Jun 2014

EU Aims to Scuttle Treaty on Human Rights Abuses
Thalif Deen, UN Inter Press Service (IPS), 24 Jun 2014 

Peoples Permanent Tribunal Hearing Exposes Dark State of Corporate Impunity
Treaty Alliance, 23 Jun 2014

US & EU Oppose Stronger Regulation of Corporations at HRC Despite Compatibility with Guiding Principles
Nora Mardirossian, Treaty Alliance, 22 Jun 2014

Historic Moment: HRC to Vote on Resolution to Create Treaty on Business and Human Rights
Nora Mardirossian, Treaty Alliance, 20 Jun 2014

Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples - binding regulation on corporate behaviour the "big picture" in protecting the rights of indigenous peoples
Treaty Alliance, 20 Jun 2014

A New International Debate on Human Rights and Corporations
Gonzalo Berrón, Corporate Power, 18 Jun 2014

Commitments to Human Rights
Nora Mardirossian (Treaty Alliance), 18 Jun 2014

Core Group's Surprising Maneuver Obstructs Vote on Resolution for a Binding Instrument
Nora Mardirossian (Treaty Alliance), 17 Jun 2014

Statement of His Excellency Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva at the 26th Session of the Human Rights Council
11 Jun 2014

Friends of the Earth Intl. to release new report calling for a business & human rights treaty to protect environmental & human rights defenders
Daily Times (Nigeria), 11 Jun 2014

Letter to the UN Human Rights Council Re: Business and Human Rights
[PDF] Full letter
Human Rights Watch, 10 Jun 2014

UN Human Rights Council must act now to salvage the business and human rights agenda
Amnesty International, 9 Jun 2014

Joint written statement to UN Human Rights Council by CIDSE Bischöfliches Hilfswerk Misereor, Swiss Catholic Lenten
, 26 May 2014 

UN Human Rights Council 24th Session (Geneva, Sep 2013)  

binding-treaty-Ecuador-proposal-credit-Conectas

At the 24th UN Human Rights Council session in September 2013, the representative of Ecuador before the UN made a declaration regarding "Transnational Corporations and Human Rights". With this statement the government of Ecuador proposed a legally binding international instrument on business & human rights to be concluded within the UN system.  The instrument envisioned "would clarify the obligations of transnational corporations in the field of human rights" and "provide for the establishment of effective remedies for victims in cases where domestic jurisdiction is clearly unable to" provide them.  The declaration was supported by over 80 countries including the African Group, the Arabic Group, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Venezuela and Peru.  Over a hundred regional and international human rights organizations and social movements welcomed the petition. 

Statement on behalf of a Group of Countries at the 24th Session of the Human Rights Council
Republic of Ecuador, at UN Human Rights Council, Sep 2013

Statement to the Human Rights Council in Support of the Initiative of a Group of States for a Legally Binding Instrument on Transnational Corporations
Signed by over 90 civil society organisations, 13 Sep 2013