The possibility of an international treaty addressing corporate impunity materialised with the adoption of a UN resolution in July 2014. The opening of the negotiations will take place in early July 2015. The Treaty alliance, gathering over 600 NGOs and social movements around the world, will organise advocacy activities in support of the initiative.
FIDH and ESCR-Net, both members of the Treaty Alliance, have launched a project to develop legal proposals for the treaty’s content. This will be a two year process involving the establishment of an expert legal group tasked with devising legal proposals, after consulting with lawyers, NGOs and representatives of affected people in all principal regions of the world.
Over the past few months, several advocacy regional meetings took place in Mexico, South Africa and Europe. Many groups, including ECCJ, attended a meeting in Brussels to exchange information on the treaty proposal and discuss the position of European governments. The European Union has changed its position from initially rejecting the entire process to seeming to be willing to engage in the process provided the supporting states continue to uphold the UN principles and develop their own national action plan on business and human rights; businesses are properly consulted; the scope of the treaty includes also national companies (reference to the added footnote in resolution HRC-26-9) and the chair is neutral.
There is still room to manoeuvre as the positions of States are less unified than they appear. Some countries have stated they will follow the process as observers, such as France. European countries, if they are true to their commitment to advance the business and human rights debate, must engage in a constructive way in the upcoming negotiations. The Treaty Alliance insist on the complementary of national and regional processes, and is organising a set of activities before the intergovernmental meeting. These include:
- Side event during the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva (19 March)
- EU-CELAC Civil Society Forum in Brussels (19-20 March)
- Workshops during the World Social Forum in Tunis (23-24 March)
- Milano EXPO 2015 in Milan (May)
- Treaty Alliance Week of Action (May)
- Permanent Peoples Tribunal in Brussels (June)
- EURO-LAT summit in Brussels (June)
- Human Rights Council session in Geneva (1-3 June)