News, Resources, Statements

Joint Statement: Call for an international legally binding instrument on human rights, transnational corporations and other business enterprises

global movement for a binding treaty
Participants' 'Voting Wall' at the Peoples' Forum on Human Rights & Business 


This statement has been endorsed by a wide alliance of international networks, organizations and social movements, listed below.[1] It represents the collective expression of a growing mobilization of global civil society calling for further enhancement of international legal standards to address corporate infringements of human rights. It welcomes the recent initiatives by States in the United Nations Human Rights Council, presented by Ecuador in the session of September 2013, to develop an international treaty on legally binding rules for TNCs on human rights issues.

We, the undersigned organisations,

Concerned about the continuing abuses and violations of human rights occurring all over the world which directly or indirectly engage the responsibility of business enterprises;

Concerned also that such abusive conduct often disproportionately impacts women, who comprise the majority of workers in the most vulnerable sectors, peasants, indigenous peoples, persons living in poverty, children among others, and especially concerned by the fact that justice is denied to those who suffer harm,

Considering the invaluable work done by human rights defenders and organisations, trade unions, indigenous rights and women rights defenders and others defending and protecting human rights in the face of corporate- related abuses,

Concerned at the incidence of attacks, harassment, restrictions, intimidation and reprisals against these human rights defenders,

Considering the initiatives taken by some States within and outside the United Nations human rights bodies as well as the action and work undertaken by human rights experts and bodies of the United Nations to provide better protection of human rights in the context of business operations,

Recalling existing States’ obligations under global and regional human rights treaties and the need to implement and complement those treaties to make them effective in the context of business transnational operations,

Convinced of the need to enhance the international legal framework, including international remedies, applicable to State action to protect rights in the context of business operations, and mindful of the urgent need to ensure access to justice and remedy and reparations for victims of corporate human rights abuse,

1. Call upon the States to elaborate an international treaty that:

  • Affirms the applicability of human rights obligations to the operations of transnational corporations and other business enterprises;
  • Requires States Parties to monitor and regulate the operations of business enterprises under their jurisdiction, including when acting outside their national territory, with a view to prevent the occurrence of abuses of human rights in the course of those operations;
  • Requires States Parties to provide for legal liability for business enterprises for acts or omissions that infringe human rights;
  • Requires States Parties to provide for access to an effective remedy by any State concerned, including access to justice for foreign victims that suffered harm from acts or omissions of a business enterprise in situations where there are bases for the States involved to exercise their territorial or extraterritorial protect- obligations;
  • Provides for an international monitoring and accountability mechanism;
  • Provides for protection of victims, whistle-blowers and human rights defenders that seek to prevent, expose or ensure accountability in cases of corporate abuse and guarantees their right to access to information relevant in this context.

2.            Call on the United Nations Human Rights Council to take step towards the elaboration of this treaty, and to that end establish an open ended inter-governmental working group tasked with a drafting mandate.

3.            Call on civil society organisations to take measures towards the establishment of a joint initiative to achieve the objective of a legally binding instrument within the United Nations without delay.

[1] This statement was originally drafted by participants in the first annual Peoples’ Forum on Human Rights and Business. The Forum was convened jointly by ESCR-Net and Forum-Asia from 5 to 7 November in Bangkok, Thailand.


List of Signatories 

Accountability Counsel, USA

ADC Memorial, Russia

ADHOC (Cambodia)

AGORA Espacio Civil, Paraguay

Afghanistan Watch

African Law Foundation (AFRILAW), Nigeria


Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (Alt-SEAN Burma)

Alyansya Tigil Mina – Alliance Against Mining (Philippines)

Anti-POSCO People’s Movement, India


Armanshahr/OPEN ASIA (Afghanistan)

Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)

Associação Mama Mater/IBFAN, Portugal

Association of Religious Liberty & Languages of Sri Lanka

Avocats Sans Frontieres

Burma Partnership

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Egypt

CAJAR (Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo), Colombia

Canada Tibet Committee


Casa y Ciudad

CCS, Panama

CEDAL- Centro de Derechos y Desarrollo

CEDH (Centre Oecuménique des Droits Humain), Haïti

CEDHU (La Comisión Ecuménica de Derechos Humanos)

CENIDH, Nicaragua

Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)

Center of Concern, USA

Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), South Africa

Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos ‘Segundo Montes Mozo S.J.’ (CSMM)

Centro de Estudios Sociales y Culturales Antonio de Montesinos (CAM)

Centro de Investigación y Promoción Social (CIPROSOC)

Centro de Reflexión y Acción Laboral de Fomento Cultural y Educativo


International Indian Treaty Council – CITI

Citizens for Justice-(CFJ), Malawi

Citizens Watch Russia

Coalición de Organizaciones Mexicanas por el Derecho al Agua (COMDA)

Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos

Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (CPDH), Colombie

Community Resource Centre (CRC), Thailand

Conectas Direitos Humanos

Consultoría Especializada en Justiciabilidad de los DESC  (CEJUDESC)

CorA Network for Corporate

Defenders of Human Rights Centre – DHRC (Iran)

Defensoría del Derecho a la Salud


Democracy Center

DESCA Equipo Pueblo, México

Development and Civilisations Lebret-IRFED (DCLI) 

DKA Austria – Hilfswerk der Katholischen Jungschar, Austria

Due Process of Law Foundation

Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights,

EOHR – Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights

Equitable Cambodia

Espacio de Coordinación de Organizaciones Civiles sobre Derechos
Económicos, Sociales y Culturales (Espacio DESC)

European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ)

FIAN International

FIAN Sección México

Fiery Hearts Club, Uzbekistan/France

Finnish League for Human Rights

Franciscans International 

Freedom from Debt Coalition-FDC, Philippines

Friends of the Earth US

Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 

Global Rights: Partners for Justice, USA

Gong Gam Human Rights Law Foundation, South Korea

Green Advocates International

Gulf Civil Society Association Forum, Bahrein

Habi Center for Environmental Rights

Housing International Coalition (HIC)

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan – HRCP (Pakistan)

Human Rights Foundation of Aotearoa New Zealand

Human Rights Movement ‘Bir Duino – Kirgizstan’

Human Rights Online Philippines (Philippines)

HRD-Pilipinas (Philippines)


Inclusive Development International

Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLinks), UK

Institute for Ecology and Action Anthropology (INFOE)

Instituto de Derechos Humanos Ignacio Ellacuria (IDHIE)

Instituto Mexicano de Derechos Humanos y Democracia  (IMDHD)

Instituto Mexicano para el Desarrollo Comunitario (IMDEC)

International Campaign for Tibet – ICT (Tibet)

International Commission of Jurists

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

International Service for Human Rights

Justiça Global

Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay (KAMP) – Campaign for Life of Dignity for All-Philippines  (Philippines)
Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law

Kenyan Human Rights Commission

KILOS KA (Kilusang Maralita sa Kanayunan), The Philippines 

KontraS (Indonesia)

Korean House of International Solidarity (KHIS)

La Comisión Nacional de los Derchos Humanos

La Oficina Jurídica Para la Mujer de Cochabamba, Bolivia

LAHRA (Lanao Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, The Philippines 

Lao Movement for Human Rights – MLDH (Laos)

Lauri Tanner

Lawyers without Borders

League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran -LDDHI (Iran)

Legal Aid Society, Uzbekistan

Liga lidských práv / League of Human Rights, Czech Republic

Liga Mexicana por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (LIMEDDH)

Ligue algérienne pour la défense des droits de l’Homme (LADDH)

LuaLua Center for Human Rights (LCHR), Bahrein

Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement (MPPM), The Philippines

Mindanao Tripeople Women Resource Center (MTWRC), The Philippines 

MiningWatch, Canada

National Centre For Advocacy Studies, India

Network for Justice and Development, Sierra Leone

NGO Citizens’ Watch

Norwegian People’s Aid

O Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens, Brazil

Observatorio Ciudadano, Chile

Odhikar (Bangladesh)

Oficina Regional para América Latina y el Caribe de la Coalición
Internacional para el Hábitat (HIC AL)

Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates – PAHRA (Philippines)

Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PHILRIGHTS)

Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo (PIDHDD)

POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (Anti-POSCO peoples movement), India

Pradžių pradžia (Promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding), Lithuania

Project on Organizing, Development, Education, and Research (PODER), Mexico


Radar-Colectivo de Estudios Críticos en Derecho


Réseau national de défense des droits humains (RNDDH), Haití

Russian Research Center for Human Rights

Sakum Teang Tnaut (STT)

Salam Bahrain for Human Rights

Society for Environmental Actions, Re-Construction & Humanitarian Response, Pakistan


SUMPAY Mindanao, Inc., The Philippines

Task Force Detainees of the Philippines – TFDP (Philippines)

The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)

The Jus Semper Global Alliance

Traidcraft, UK

Transnational Institute

Vietnam Committee on Human Rights – VCHR (Vietnam)

Welthaus Diözese Graz-Seckau, Austria

WIDE – Network for Women´s Rights and Feminist Perspectives in Development (Austria)

WUNRN – Women’s UN Report Network

World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

YAC Nepal