Every day, communities and workers around the globe are adversely impacted by corporations – their land is confiscated, their environment heavily polluted, or their labor conditions are inhumane. In many countries and contexts, these people do not have access to remedy. And when they protest and attempt to claim their rights, they are increasingly threatened, intimidated or even murdered. These people deserve to be protected against the adverse impacts of powerful corporations. Until now, almost all international guidelines and policies urging corporations to uphold the rights of workers and community members are voluntary and not enforceable. This could be about to change.
Treaty on businesses and human rights
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) has adopted a historic resolution to develop a treaty that could hold transnational corporations (TNCs) and other business enterprises to account for corporate abuses under international human rights law. This treaty could better protect people from human rights abuses by corporations and help bring corporate actors to justice.
Historic opportunity: not only words
Unfortunately, European governments haven’t been so keen to participate in the treaty negotiations. Mariëtte van Huijstee, SOMO’s senior researcher on businesses and human rights elaborates: “The European Union and the Dutch government portray themselves as human rights champions. But EU governments are not living up to this image when it comes to developing binding rules on business and human rights. The treaty negotiations provide an opportunity for European governments to walk the talk. But more importantly, it provides an historic opportunity to protect people from business related human rights abuse, and increase their access to remedy”.
The EU and especially the Netherlands should not miss out on the historic opportunity to fight impunity, address the governance gap, and stand on the side of people whose rights are being infringed.
Sign the petition: let them hear your voice!
Tell minister Koenders and the EU that we need a binding treaty on business and human rights! Sign the petition and urge the EU and its member states to take part in the negotiations on a UN Treaty on TNCs and other business enterprises with respect to human rights.