The UN Forum on Business and Human Rights took place in Geneva from 26 to 28 November. More than 2,000 participants (governments, businesses, CSOs, trade unions, academics…) took part in panel discussions related to the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and current business-related human rights issues. The 2018 edition of the forum, established by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2011 and guided by the Working Group on Business and Human Rights, focused on topics such as States’ progress on the Guiding Principles, state-owned enterprise practices, the protection of human rights defenders, corporate due-diligence and the possibility of designing a human-rights compatible International Investment Agreement.
Business and Human Rights (HR) was also discussed twice at the European Parliament (EP) on 20 November 2018. As part of Human Rights Week, a session on HR and the External Actions of the EU and Member States (MS) was organised by the EP Subcommittee on HR (DROI). Together with members of national parliaments of EU Member States, subcommittee members addressed the topic of Business and HR in sharing experiences at national level and proposing strategic actions at national and EU level. The EP’s Trade (INTA) and Development (DEVE) committees also held a joint session to discuss the state of play of negotiations on a potential future Treaty on Transnational Corporations and other business enterprises. Led by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights since 2014, this draft treaty has the potential to radically improve respect for human rights in the supply chains of transnational corporations by introducing binding mechanisms to hold companies accountable under international law. The parliamentary committees recalled their will to see the EU engage in this binding treaty. The fifth round of negotiation will take place in October 2019.
SOLIDAR welcomes these discussions and efforts to hold businesses accountable for HR violations and encourages EU Member States to further engage in the negotiations on the Treaty on Transnational Corporations. SOLIDAR believes all Guiding Principles should be included in the treaty, especially those related to access to remedies and duty of due diligence. In fact, SOLIDAR highly recommends a move towards mandatory due diligence in order to make visible who is in the supply chain and hence allow monitoring and accountability.
SOLIDAR and its members also addressed the topic of business and HR during its events last week: the Majalat Brussels Civil Forum (20-21 November) and the closing event of the project “Mobilising for social justice in the MENA” (22-23 November). For more information on SOLIDAR network’s position on the role of the business sector, find more here.