EU and UN instruments: Working in tandem to guarantee justice

The UN Treaty aimed at regulating the activities of transnational corporations and other businesses and the proposed EU Directive on corporate sustainability due diligence (CSDDD) are two legal instruments currently under negotiations.

The instruments, while different in nature, are comparable since both include provisions to regulate companies to respect human rights, by preventing and ceasing their negative impacts on people and planet, as well as rules to provide remedy and access to justice. In October 2021, civil society organisations published a briefing arguing that the instruments should complement each other.

When the proposal for a European due diligence law was announced in February 2022, a group of civil society organisations commissioned an expert study that analysed the division of EU and member state legislative competences, as well as three content areas of overlap between the two instruments: the corporate due diligence duty, civil liability and access to justice rules. It illuminates how and where the two texts could be complementary and where they need further alignment to achieve an upward harmonisation of rules. The findings of the study make a strong case for an EU negotiating mandate.

  • The European Commission and European External Action Service should immediately submit a recommendation to the Council to agree on a common position and obtain a mandate to engage in the negotiations for the UN Treaty, and member states should work to ensure the EU submits such a request as soon as possible;
  • The EU and member states should participate actively and constructively in the UN Treaty negotiations including the upcoming 8th session of the Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group between 24 – 28 October 2022;
  • The European Commission, European Parliament and member states should ensure complementary and ambitious European and international instruments laying out a robust and substantive corporate duty, and going beyond to ensure strong liability provisions, access to justice and effective remedy for affected people.