Third UN Intergovt. Working Group session on proposed business & human rights treaty (23-27 Oct)


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8 November 2017

IGWG 3rd Session - Notes recorded by civil society organisations involved in the Treaty Alliance

Author: Treaty Alliance

IMPORTANT: The information contained here is only what civil society organisations heard states say during the IGWG sessions and therefore only serve as a guide. They in no way reflect an official record of the negotiations. The authors are not responsible for the accuracy of the content of the negotiations. For an official version of the negotiations please see the UNTV Webcast of the IGWG at: 

...As the notes are taken live during negotiations there are typos and misunderstandings. For any clarifications check the official record of the interventions at UNTV. 

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2 November 2017

UN Treaty negotiations: A chance for the EU to champion human rights

Author: Anne Van Schaick, Friends of the Earth Euope, in Euractiv

This week more than 200 representatives of global civil society, including victims of human rights abuses by corporations, joined the third session of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group at the United Nations in Geneva on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights.

...The elements of the treaty provide essential suggestions on implementation and monitoring.

...This is why it is important that Ecuador...has proposed in its elements an International Court on Transnational Corporations (TNCs) and Human Rights. This is a must.

...Towards the end of the negotiations, the EU yet again hindered the UN treaty process from moving forward, by objecting to a fourth session of the Intergovernmental Working Group in 2018 and proposing to have only consultations on the process. But civil society and many states insisted that a fourth session should and will be realised in 2018.

...The European Union  has an important role to play in the upcoming negotiations, especially in a time of rising isolationism. We therefore urge the EU and its Member States individually, to support the UN Treaty and show that Europe can champion multilateralism and human rights and business. 

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2 November 2017

UN treaty process on business and human rights moving into a new phase

Author: ECCJ & SOMO

The third session of the Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group...concluded last Friday, 27 October.

...The provisional report of the session was adopted by consensus on Friday...Significantly though, the report does not conclude that there will be a fourth session in 2018...

.. On the positive side: the treaty process was kept afloat...The European Union, which seemed ready to get off on the first day, citing procedural concerns, decided to remain.

On the downside: the call for informal consultations on the continuation of the process in the conclusions of the provisional report is not sufficient, and seriously risks delaying the process. A successful fourth session in 2018 would ideally be preceded by a zero draft text... and a programme of work for 2018 which includes clear milestones and consultations in the run up to the session.

...The next months are crucial for the success of the process and there are several steps to be taken...[T]he adoption of the session report must be affirmed...[A]ll states need to...develop a position on the Draft Elements...[T]he design of the roadmap to the fourth Session needs to be agreed upon.

...Civil society stands ready to actively contribute to the process and is united in moving forward to a fourth IGWG session in 2018. 

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1 November 2017

The treaty on transnational corporations and human rights enters “negotiation mode”

Author: Global Campaign to Reclaim Peoples Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity (Global Campaign)

The Global Campaign welcomes the end of a successful week of intense work moving towards decisive negotiations on a binding treaty on transnational corporations (TNCs) and human rights, despite challenges from the EU with support from the US.

More than 100 states and over 200 representatives of social movements, trade unions and civil society organizations were at the UN in Geneva during the third session of the UN inter governmental working group...

...[T]he Secretariat of the Human Rights Council confirmed that the working group does not need a new resolution and that it will go forward with its work until a treaty is negotiated.

...The Draft Report and Conclusions were approved by consensus and will be submitted for final approval to the UNHRC in March 2018...[T]he Elements paper towards a Treaty... remains open for further comment until the end of February and will ...form the basis for developing the zero draft treaty for the fourth working group session in 2018.

...The Global Campaign is fully committed to contributing to this process with proposals based on the experiences of affected communities and social movements.

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31 October 2017

Draft report on the third session of the open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights

Author: Guillaume Long, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights

Please submit any factual corrections or clarifications by COB on Monday 13 November 2017. Note that typos etc. will also be corrected and the report will be edited to meet the word limit of 10,700.


I. Introduction 

II. Organization of the session 
A. Election of the Chair-Rapporteur 
B. Attendance 
C. Documentation 
D. Adoption of the agenda and programme of work 

III. Opening statements 
A. Keynote Speeches 
B. General Statements 
C. Debate: Reflections on the implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and other relevant international, regional and national frameworks 

IV. Panel discussions 
A. Subject 1: General framework 
B. Subject 2: Scope of application 
C. Subject 3: General obligations 
D. Subject 4: Preventive measures
E. Subject 5: Legal liability
F. Subject 6: Access to justice, effective remedy and guarantees of non-repetition
G. Subject 7: Jurisdiction
H. Subject 8: International cooperation
I. Subject 9: Mechanisms for promotion, implementation and monitoring
J. Subject 10: General provisions
K. Panel: The voices of the victims

V. Recommendations of the Chair-Rapporteur and conclusions of the working group 
A. Recommendations of the Chair-Rapporteur 
B. Conclusions of the working group 

VI. Adoption of the report 

I. List of participants 
II. List of panellists and moderators 

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27 October 2017

IGWG 3 - Daily Updates - Friday 27 October 2017

Author: ESCR-Net

The Corporate Accountability Working Group of ESCR-Net (CAWG) participated in the final day of discussions towards the proposed treaty. The majority of the morning was devoted to a session on ‘The voices of the victims'...

...While civil society welcomed the reiteration by a number of states on the need to protect human rights defenders, it was apparent that we need to also continue to encourage stronger focus on the underlying systemic human rights abuses that prompt such [attacks in the first place.

As the Chair-Rapporteur of the IGWG put forward proposals regarding the next steps in the process, various states put forward counter-proposals and civil society acted to encourage states to take positive steps towards progress in 2018. CAWG made a final statement supporting the positive process so far and calling for the continuation of an autonomous process, a draft text in 2018 and intermediary sessions to evolve the process. The Chairperson-Rapporteur welcomed the participation of 60 states in the first session of the IGWG, 80 in the second and 101 in the third session, and concluded the 3rd session with recommendations and conclusions, with a full report to follow. 

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27 October 2017

UN Treaty Negotiations Day 4: Lively discussions set strong basis for future negotiations, States and EU must remain engaged

Author: European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ)

On its fourth day of its third session, the Intergovernmental Working Group…in-depth and complex substantive topics. Jurisdictional barriers, international judicial cooperation and mechanisms to monitor and implement the international Treaty provided the ambitious agenda of the day…

Jurisdiction was identified as a crucial topic for guaranteeing access to justice…Amnesty International expressed great concern that many Delegates had just the day before rejected the idea of letting courts in parent companies’ home States hear cases concerning corporate harm caused abroad…

The last topic of implementation saw one recurring issue, namely the proposal to establish an international court or tribunal to hear cases against transnational corporations…

The EU Delegate expressed doubts about attaching criminal liability to corporations (‘legal persons’) at the international level…

…The Chair of the group is expected to present a proposal for a Draft Treaty ahead of the IV session next year…

…[M]ore than 40 civil society organisations addressed an open letter to States and the EU calling on decision-makers to ensure the continuity of the process…

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26 October 2017

IGWG 3 - Daily Updates - Thursday 26 October 2017

Author: ESCR-Net

The Corporate Accountability Working Group of ESCR-Net (CAWG) participated in the fourth day of discussions towards the proposed treaty...Civil society groups repeatedly stressed the importance of ensuring those affected are central to this discussion, and that access to justice is an indispensable part of the treaty.

...The discussion was followed by a panel on jurisdiction during which the need for the elimination of the forum non conveniens principle was stressed and participants explored the issue of extraterritorial jurisdiction. On the topic of international cooperation, participants recognized the importance of developing practical measures to ensure a global response to addressing transnational activity and existing impunity for many corporate human rights abuses.

CAWG’s midday side event focused on corporate capture – the undue influence of corporations on government decision-making. 

...On the afternoon panel on mechanisms for promotion, implementation and monitoring, participants expressed differing views on the appropriate way to ensure implementation of the treaty – whether through national action (including engagement by NHRIs), the use of existing mechanisms, or a new body such as an international court.

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26 October 2017

Treaty Alliance at the 3rd session of the IGWG on transnational corporations and human rights, 2017

Author: Treaty Alliance

Storify by the Treaty Alliance.

The Treaty Alliance, an alliance of committed networks and campaign groups from around the world, is in Geneva for advocacy activities in support of a binding international instrument to address human rights abuses committed by transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

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26 October 2017

UN Treaty Negotiations Day 3 - Prevention & Acces to Justice inspire most constructive discussions so far

Author: European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ)

...[T]he [third] day also provided for meaningful interventions on the two main agenda items: preventative measures and access to justice...

The room presented a general consensus around the idea that prevention is key when addressing human rights impacts in the context of business operations...

Voluntary measures to make corporations implement mechanisms to identify, prevent, remedy and account for the human rights impacts of their global operations have proven insufficient. Yesterday's discussion reflects the growing acknowledgement of this dire reality among states. It also illustrated that the different legal developments taking place in some States...

The last two items, covered during the afternoon, were liability and access to justice...

Representatives from communities of different regions, including indigenous peoples and many women, spoke up to make clear that establishing corporate liability is essential and non-optional in order to solve the current and dehumanizing accountability gap...

Access to Justice: agreement that more needs to be done...

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