UN Binding Treaty - Common position paper for UK civil society

October 2018

Ahead of a week of negotiations on the UN Binding Treaty on Transnational Corporations and Human Rights in Geneva in October, the UK civil society working group on the Binding Treaty has produced a common position paper for UK government and parliamentary advocacy.

What we want to see in the Treaty

We believe the Treaty must:

  • Cover all the rights recognised in all existing international human rights treaties in international human rights law: economic, social, cultural, civil, political and labour rights; the right to development, self-determination and a healthy environment; and all the collective rights of indigenous peoples and native communities globally;
  • Allow people, with particular attention to enabling women and the most marginalised, whose rights are violated by TNCs to access justice. This should be through effective judicial recourse, not only in their home states, but in all other states that have jurisdiction over the concerned business, including parent-based extraterritorial jurisdiction;
  • Contain provisions requiring states to respect, protect and facilitate human rights and access to justice of affected communities as well as of the work of human rights defenders and whistle-blowers;
  • Contain a strong international enforcement mechanism;
  • Contribute to the attainment of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The Treaty must also integrate a strong, intersectional gendered approach. Integrating a gender approach into the Treaty means explicitly recognising and analysing how businesses' activities may have different, disproportionate, or unanticipated impacts on women compared to men. This is inclusive of whether they are workers, producers, consumers, and/or principal providers of unpaid care, as it is a result of their different gender-based social, economic, legal, or cultural roles.

Being intersectional in this approach means recognising and addressing specific impacts and issues that may be experienced by particular groups of rights-holders based on their gender, as well as other aspects of identity, such as age, race, language, religion, caste, sexual orientation, migrant status or geographical location.

Taking an intersectional, gendered approach would need to include

  • Mandatory requirements for companies to undertake public and accessible human rights-based gender impact assessments as part of ongoing human rights due diligence. Women from affected communities, particularly those from the most marginalised groups, should be included in their design scope and implementation;
  • Ensuring effective justice and remedial mechanisms are accessible and responsive to the diverse contexts and lived experiences of women;
  • Stronger and clearer language on the need to respect, protect, and ensure an enabling environment for women human rights defenders and whistleblowers, taking into account the gender-specific risks and impacts that they face;
  • For further details see Feminists for a Binding Treaty Coalition (2017) Integrating a gender perspective into the legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises

What we urge the UK Government to do

There is much work to be done and we urge the UK Government to take a positive approach to this groundbreaking Treaty by

  1. Actively support the continuing of the existing process;
  2. Productively participating in the negotiations of the Treaty text;
  3. Contribute constructively with opinions, proposals and concrete formulations towards the successful conclusion of the negotiations in the framework of Resolution 26/9
  4. Pursuing the reintroduction of the missing proposals from the first three OEIGWG sessions during the fourth OEIGWG session so that they appear in the next edition of the draft of the final text.

Produced by: Global Justice Now, TUC, London Mining Network, UNISON, Womankind Worldwide, ActionAid, STOPAIDS and War on Want.

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