The international debate surrounding the environmental, social and human rights responsibilities of corporations has gained momentum, in recent years, fueled by growing public outcry. The list of criticism is long: ever-new pollution scandals like the VW emissions case, repeated disregard for labour and human rights standards (for example in Bangladesh’s textile industry), as well as widespread corporate tax avoidance strategies (used by international giants like Google, Starbucks and IKEA).
Against this background, the UN Human Rights Council took the historic decision to establish a working group “to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.”
This working paper, The Struggle for a UN Treaty, outlines the events leading up to today’s discussions, controversies and topics of disagreement. The paper then, describes a potential content of the legally binding instrument, concluding with remarks on the necessary steps.