The need to confront the Architecture of Impunity
Why is the Global Campaign mobilized towards a UN Binding Treaty for Transnational Corporations on Human Rights?
Between transnational corporations, states and peoples, there is an undeniable asymmetry:
• On one hand: with the complicity of states that are in that are interested in guaranteeing that they are “attracting investment”, transnational corporations have been covering themselves with a solid armour made up of free trade and investment protection agreements and their respective sanctioning mechanisms. Institutions such as the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) constitute clear examples of the privatisation of justice, as well as any ISDS mechanism.
• On the other hand, violations of human rights and the rights of peoples and nature have become inherent to transnational corporations operations, as well as systematic. But at the international level there is no binding rule for corporations on Human Rights.
In June 2014, the Human Rights Council finally adopted the resolution 26/9 on the elaboration of an International legally binding instrument on transnational corporations (TNCs) and other business enterprises with respect to human rights.
This was a historic achievement after decades of discussions and failed attempts within the United Nations. Such a legally binding Instrument is essential for two dimensions of the Global Campaign’s work: to end corporate impunity, and address the systemic power of transnational corporations which has reached unprecedented impacts on the daily lives of affected communities.
In short, our concrete proposals for the Treaty are the following:
- Scope of the Treaty: The target of this process is the power and impunity of TNCs and covering all Human Rights
- Primacy of human rights: The legally binding international instrument must reaffirm the hierarchical superiority of human rights norms over trade and investment treaties and develop specific state obligations in this regard (rejection of ISDS clauses)
- Direct obligations for transnational corporations: The Treaty needs to establish direct legal obligations for TNCs.
- Responsible solidarity: In order to cover all transnational activities, the Treaty shall cover all those activities along the supply chain of the TNC.
- To be binding, the Treaty needs to include an International Court and other compliance institutions
- Rights of affected persons and communities: The Treaty shall recognize the moral and legitimate authority of the persons and peoples affected by TNCs activities. Human Rights, Environmental Rights defenders and whistle blowers shall be protected.
- Protection from corporate capture: The Treaty shall include concrete measures against the influence of TNCs during the whole process of preparing, negotiating and implementing the future binding international instrument.
Developed proposals of the Global Campaign for the Binding Treaty on transnational corporations and Human Rights:
Elements for the statute of an International Tribunal on Transnational corporations and Human Rights as a mechanism of enforcement and guarantee of the obligations of the Legally Binding Instrument on Transnational corporations and Human Rights (October 2022) [English] [Castellano]
Key elements defended by the Global Campaign for a Binding Treaty on Transnational Corporations and Human Rights, based on the experiences of resistance by communities affected by transnational corporations (2022) [English] [Castellano] [Portuguese]
Global Campaign activities on the Binding Treaty in 2021
The Global Campaign submitted to the OEIGWG its final comments and amendments on the Second Revised Draft of the Binding Treaty, as well as the Matrix of Amendments and the Matrix of Comments.
The Campaign participates also at the 47th Session of the Human Rights Council co-organising virtual side events and submitting statements:
- 23 June: Side Event “The Right to the City and the UN Binding Treaty”
- 28 de junio: Global Campaign Statement on Item 3 Experts Group on TNCs and Human Rights
- 29 June: Side Event “Big Pharma vs. the People in the times of COVID-19”
In October 2021, the Global Campaign will participate in the 7th Session of OEIGWG. More information coming soon.
The process from 2014 to 2020
In 2014, the Global Campaign mobilised towards the vote of the 26/9 UNHRC Resolution during the Week of Peoples Mobilisation.In 2015 the Global Campaign was present during the First Meeting of the OEIGWG. Our members prepared several activities in order to pressure governments to keep the process of building a Transnational Corporations Treaty moving forward. We submitted the “8 points: Written Contribution of the Global Campaign to the first session of the IGWG”
In 2016, the Global Campaign again participated actively in the debate at the Second Session of the OEIGWG and facilitated the participation of more than 100 activists, representing unions, peasant organizations, environmental organisations, youth, women, indigenous peoples, migrants and the access to medicines movements. They convened in Geneva to participate in and observe the proceedings within the UN. These activists represented 29 countries and shared their lived experiences in 15 activities both within and outside the formal spaces of the UN. Participants made 40 oral statements in the six panels of the session. We presented 6 concrete proposals for the binding instrument: on the obligations for TNCs, extraterritorial obligations; the instrument of enforcement, the responsibility of TNCs in the global supply chains; the architecture of the global corporate law (International Financial Institutions, the World Trade Organisation and the investment and trade regime); as well as the rights of the affected communities. And we organised the following activities:
- June 2016, Geneva: Challeging Corporate Crime and Impunity: affected communities seek Justice
- May 2016, Geneva: Peoples Mobilisation vs. Corporate Impunity converge at the UN
- May 2016, Brussels: How to Hold Transnational Corporations Responsible for Human Rights Violations, Hearing at the European Parliament
In 2017 we also convened to a Week of Peoples Mobilisation from 23rd to 27th October. More than 160 delegates from 80 countries representing social movements, trade unions, and global civil society, including communities affected by the human rights violations of transnational corporations were actively involved that week. We presented our Proposal of Binding Treaty as Global Campaign. Likewise, an advocacy strategy was deployed with the States present (through bilateral meetings, side events and interventions in plenary of representatives of affected communities,networks and movements of the South). Images of the Week can be seen at this link.
The Global Campaign has also supported from 2017 the implementation of a Global Interparliamentary network in support to the UN Binding Treaty. More information on this initiative.
In 2018 the Global Campaign continued developing strategies and efforts in order to build a UN Binding Treaty on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations that contributes to stop impunity.
During the 37th Session of UNHRC we organised:
- Wednesday 7th March, 1.30 – 3 pm, Palais des Nations, Room XXIII, Geneva: Side Event at the 37th session of UN Human Rights Council on “Reflections towards the UN Binding Treaty on Transnational Corporations with respect to Human Rights” (see the video here)
- Wednesday 7th March, 7.15 pm, Uni- Mail, University of Geneva, Room MR290, Boulevard Pont d’Arve, 40, Geneva): Public Conference on the Impact of Transnational Corporations, hosted by CUAE (Convened by: Conférence Universitaire des Associations d’EtudiantEs (CUAE), TTAC, CADTM, CETIM, CGAS, UNIA, Coordination Climat et Justice Sociale, BADIL, Groupe écosocialiste de solidaritéS, solidaritéS Jeunes et solidaritéS, Syndicat de Services Publics (SSP), Liste égalitté et équité, and the Global Campaign).
- Thursday 8th March, 12 pm, Place des Nations, Geneva: Public demonstration on corporate impunity and in solidarity with Women Struggles (Convened by: ATTAC, CADTM, CETIM, CGAS, Coordination Climat et Justice Sociale, BADIL, Groupe écosocialiste de solidaritéS, Liste égalité et équité, solidaritéS Jeunes et solidaritéS, and the Global Campaign).
May 2018 – July 2018
On June 21st the Global Campaign organised at the UN Palais in Geneva a Side Event on “Transnational Corporations and Human Rights: How to address efficiently the need for judicial mechanisms to ensure access to justice for affected communities”
The Global Campaign members participated in the informal consultations convened by the Ecuadorian Mission on 17th May, 31st May, 14th June, 11th July, 17th July. The following statements were submitted:
- Statement submitted by the Global Campaign on 17th May
- Statement submitted by the Global Campaign on 31st May
- Statement submitted by the Global Campaign on 14th June
- Statement submitted by the Global Campaign on 11th July
- Statement submitted by the Global Campaign on 17th July
At that occasion of the 4th Session of OEIGWG, the Global Campaign to Reclaim Peoples Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity convened to the: Week of Peoples Mobilisation (13-20 October 2018), and submitted a Statement on 18th October 2018.
In 2019 the Global Campaign activities towards the UN Binding Treaty on Human Rights were the following:
March 2019: UNHRC Session, Geneva
We were be back in Geneva to organise advocacy activities during the Human Rights Council Session. Concretely, we organised:
- The Side Event at the UN Palais, on 7th March, including representatives of MAB, IndustriAll, Homa Institute, and the Transnational Institute: “Vale in Brumadinho: another crime in the account of the big transnationals
Shell in Nigeria: violations of labour rights continue The need for a Binding Treaty to protect human rights from the corporate logic” (see the Video here)
- A Public Conference at the University of Geneva, on 7th March
The Global Campaign submitted a written contribution including our comments and proposals regarding the UN Binding Treaty Draft Zero, that can be consulted at this link, as well as other Oral Statements.
The Brumadinho case was denounced as another example of corporate crime and impunity in Brazil.
July 2019: Publication of the Revised Draft of the UN Binding Treaty
January 2020: the Global Campaign published its comments and amendments to the UN Binding Treaty Revised Draft (Draft 1), to consult at this link.
- The OEIGWG Presidency published the 2nd Revised Draft of the UN Binding Treaty
- The Global Campaign published its first comments Statement on the 2nd Revised Draft
Our Peoples Mobilisation took place at the occasion of the 6th Session of OEIGWG in Geneva (26-30 October 2020), in a virtual mode. (see here our programme of activities).
- The Global Campaign published its final comments to the 2nd Revised Draft [English] [Castellano] [Français]
Relevant links at the UNHRC Website
Advanced edited report of the Third session (A/HRC/37/67)
For more details contact:
campaign @ stopcorporateimpunity.org / m.vargas @ tni.org
Melik Özden, Raffaele Morgantini (contact @ cetim.ch)
Brid Brennan (bridbrennan @ tni.org) / Gonzalo Berrón (gonzalo.berron @ tni.org)
Alberto Villareal (comercioredes @ gmail.com)
Contact for the press: soltrumbovila @ tni.org