Step up action on corporate abuses, create binding treaty on TNCs

IBON International Update No. 4 (2014)

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Full Text: 
Geneva, 1 December – The Third Annual United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights, taking place from 1-3 December 2014 in Geneva, faces a tide of global crises stemming from states’ failure to ensure the protection and respect for human rights. 
The forum is a multi-stakeholder venue to take stock of challenges and discuss ways to implement the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, a global standard for checking and responding to adverse impacts on human rights as a result of business activity.
This year’s theme is “Advancing business and human rights globally: alignment, adherence and accountability.” It focuses on strengthening multi-stakeholder dialogue and engagement; discussing national action plans to implement the Guiding Principles; exploring access to effective remedy; and identifying current and good practice.
A bleak reality, however, is that since the Guiding Principles’ endorsement in 2011, implementation by countries and business remains sparse. As IBON International noted in a statement last year, legislation and action plans for country-level application are hardly in existence. 
To promote the development of national action plans, the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights released today the Guidance on National Action Plans (NAPs) on Business and Human Rights. It provides recommendations on developing, implementing and updating NAPs, defined as “evolving policy strategy developed by a State to protect against adverse human rights impacts by business enterprises.”
Amid continuing human rights violations, impunity of corporate abuses and inadequate redress for victims, calls for governments to step up action are intensifying, particularly for a legally binding instrument on transnational corporations (TNCs). Last June 26, the Human Rights Council adopted Resolution A/HRC/26/9 on “Elaboration of an International Legally Binding Instrument on Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises with respect to Human Rights.” Ecuador and South Africa presented this initiative, which was co-sponsored by Algeria, Bolivia, Cuba, El Salvador, Senegal and Venezuela, and supported by over 600 civil society organizations around the world. 
While creating such a treaty regulating the operations of TNCs to ensure adherence to human rights will be an uphill battle, it can serve as a powerful legal instrument to address accountability both of the state and business. ###