The Council of Europe is said to vote on a business and human rights resolution this autumn.
A motion for a Resolution on Effectively combating negative impacts of European companies operating abroad has been submitted to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (COE).
The motion initiated by Austrian deputy Stefan Schennach (Bundesrat), and supported by a total of 38 signatories from 24 countries across the European continent, will be subjected to vote this autumn.
For a COE motion to be submitted to vote in the Assembly, it needs to be signed by at least twenty representatives or substitutes belonging to at least five national delegations, or be adopted with the requisite quorum by a committee. Once tabled, a motion cannot be withdrawn by its authors and no signature may be withdrawn or added to it.
The motion recommends a set of measures to be taken in order to improve corporate accountability for human rights impacts, prevent further violations and remove access to justice and remedy barriers faced by victims of corporate malpractice. These include:
- requiring companies to carry out human rights due diligence in order to identify, prevent/mitigate, remedy and account for the adverse human rights impacts of their operations.
- standards of parent company liability for acts of their subsidiaries and business relations should be clarified in line with the scope of the corporate responsibility to respect human rights from the UNGPs;
- rules governing private transnational litigation such as the Rome II Regulation (setting the applicable law in transnational lawsuits) should be reviewed with the aim of securing access to remedies for victims of corporate abuse in third countries;
- better access to evidence and reversal of the burden of proof in human rights cases should be addressed.