Options for shaping the UN Treaty on businesses and human rights

(  Photo: Chima Williams - Friends of the Earth Nigeria and Elisabet Pèriz - Tierra Digna Colombia)

As members of the Treaty Alliance, a global movement working towards the Treaty, in May CIDSE, Friends of the Earth Europe, SOMO and Bread for the World co-organised a legal seminar to discuss options for enforcement mechanisms for the Treaty linked to access to justice. The seminar brought together academics, NGOs, and members of grassroots organizations reporting cases of human rights violations by corporations in different continents. It also included an exchange with representatives of the EU institutions.

During the seminar, stories were shared about human right abuses and the legal and practical barriers to access to justice encountered in different countries. The case reported by Elisabet Pèriz from Tierra Digna, a study centre for social justice based in Colombia, exposed the Hydroelectrical Dam Project El Quimbo, constructed and exploited by ENGESA, a Colombian subsidiary of Enel (Italian multinational manufacturer and distributor of electricity and gas). Likewise, Chima Williams, Head of Legal Resources of the Environmental Rights Action of Friends of the Earth Nigeria, illustrated two cases against Shell; one about gas flaring and the second over oil spills into farmlands and fishponds in Southern Nigeria.

These cases exemplified the challenges of transnational litigation and showed the inability of host states to enforce judgments, as well as the reluctance of home states to impose responsibility on parent corporations when, legally, this responsibility is expected to be shared by both, parents and subsidiaries. A UN Treaty could mean a major advancement in regulating extraterritorial obligations by establishing universal jurisdiction.

To read the full article follow this link: http://www.cidse.org/articles/business-and-human-rights/business-and-human-rights-frameworks/options-for-shaping-the-un-treaty-on-businesses-and-human-rights.htm

Click here to see Elisabet Pèriz's video interview on corporate impunity and lack of access to justice in Colombia.