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US & EU Oppose Stronger Regulation of Corporations at HRC Despite Compatibility with Guiding Principles

Source: Treatymovement.com

Nora Mardirossian

UN Offices in Geneva

This week at the UN Human Rights Council, negotiations regarding the issue of business and human right have heated up, with the use of vigorous lobbying tactics on the part of the US and EU that are unconventional in the context of the HRC and which have tainted open dialogue regarding the resolution.

US Lobbying

Delegates at the HRC, namely from African and other developing countries, have reported intense US lobbying in their capitals. The US has threatened such States that if they vote in favor of the Ecuadoran and South African resolution, the US may no longer be able to provide them with foreign aid and that they may lose American investments.

The Treaty Alliance calls for the pressure from the US on developing countries to come to an end.

EU Vow

Hundreds of thousands of Europeans were exposed to the EU stance against holding corporations accountable for human rights abuses at an international level when they opened their Financial Times papers on Wednesday. 

Hundreds of thousands of Europeans were exposed to the EU stance against holding corporations accountable for human rights abuses at an international level when they opened their Financial Times papers on Wednesday. 

The EU has repeatedly and consistently vowed that its member States on the HRC will not only vote “no” as a block against the Ecuadoran and South African resolution, but that they will also not participate in the process of drafting the treaty if the resolution is indeed adopted.

No Longer a Possibility of Consensus 

In response to the EU pledge, the South African Ambassador and Cuba declared they would vote against the resolution promoted by Norway, eliminating the chance of the consensus aggressively sought by the EU. South Africa and Cuba both expressed that ideally, they hoped for consensus on a treaty, but that they would not give into the political pressure and unsubstantial concessions by withdrawing their resolution.

South Africa and Cuba stand up to pressure, show their votes are equal to those of EU member States: South Africa asserts, “We are ready to vote ‘no’ on the Norwegian resolution” and vows many countries from the region will join it.

We Can Have Both; Ecuadoran and South African resolution will realize goals of Norway Resolution

The intergovernmental process of the Ecuadoran and South African resolution takes full consideration of UN Guiding Principles and will complement and strengthen them.

The binding instrument that would eventually be established under this resolution would embolden the explicit intent of the Guiding Principles that business enterprises “address adverse human rights impacts with which they are involved” by “taking adequate measures for their prevention, mitigation and, where appropriate, remediation.” This international law obligation would finally be implemented with the support of a binding treaty.

Thus, if States who have pledged to vote for the Norway resolution truly believe in achieving the goals of the UN Guiding Principles, they must vote in favor of both resolutions.

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