UN Treaty on transnational corporations and human rights: the moment of truth for France?

Publié le 11.10.2018| Mis à jour le 10.09.2021

On 26 June 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council established an intergovernmental working group to draw up ‘an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises’.

On 20 July 2018, after three working sessions, the Ecuadorian chair of this intergovernmental working group published the first draft of a legally binding treaty. This represents a historic step in the fight against the impunity of transnational corporations. Indeed, States now have an unprecedented opportunity to agree to a new legal regime capable of making transnational corporations accountable for their acts before national and international courts endowed with effective sanctioning powers. Yet, to date, the European Union failed to support this negotiation process, in particular during the five informal consultations held before the summer to prepare the negotiations to be held from 15 to 19 October 2018 in Geneva. On the contrary, it adopted a diversionary and obstructive strategy that prevents the parties from developing their points of view on substantive legal aspects in a spirit of collective deliberation. Moreover, while European Parliament just adopted this Thursday 4 October 2018 a new resolution in favour of the UN treaty, the diplomats of the European Union delegation have not yet confirmed their participation in the upcoming negotiation session. In this context, and given its past commitments and the adoption of the 27 March 2017 law on duty of vigilance, France cannot remain on the sidelines. France must, on the contrary, be actively involved:
  • within the European Union, in order to effect changes in the position of its Member States and of the European External Action Service on the issue; and
  • within the intergovernmental working group, by taking clear and constructive stands, and this whatever the stands taken by the diplomats of the European Union delegation
The following report simultaneously deciphers what is at play within the European Union and the responsibility that falls to France as the opening of the negotiations approaches. A diversionary tactic : the European Union in the UN Treaty negotiations on transnational corporations and human rights

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