Welcome to the TA online library. This is a work-in progress space presenting a selection of documents of relevance to the ongoing process towards the development of an international binding agreement to address human rights abuses by transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

The online library is conceived to expand and enrich the ongoing debate around the treaty by documenting the work and diversity of opinions of CSO organizations, networks and campaigns groups, inside and outside the Treaty Alliance.

It includes statements, position papers, as well as research and reports addressing: a)  legal and technical issues regarding the treaty from an international law and justice perspective; b) human rights abuses in different fields (ex. land grabbing and marginalization of local communities, exploitation of natural resources, destruction of local seeds and traditional food cultures, tax avoidance, environmental degradation, workers exploitation, marketing of breastmilk substitutes) highlighting common challenges and linkages across different sectors and fields.

Contributors are people/organizations inside and outside the Treaty Alliance who are in their respective domains concerned with and committed to the development of an international binding agreement to stop corporate impunity and to hold transnational corporations accountable under human rights law.  

The online library represents a first initial effort of the Treaty Alliance to allow State representatives, but also civil society organizations, social movements and citizens, to shape their understanding of the different options at stake.

UN Official Docs

This section includes UN official documents and reports which have been and are being produced towards the realization of an international binding agreement on human rights and abuses of transnational corporations and other business enterprises, or that are in relation with this process.

Business and human rights: improving accountability and access to remedy – REV 1 June 2016

Improving accountability and access to remedy for victims of business-related human rights abuse, Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, May 2016, A/HRC/32/19

Report on the first session of the open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, with the mandate of elaborating an international legally binding instrument, February 2016, A/HRC/31/50

Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council 26/9 on the Elaboration of an international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, July 2014

Statement on the obligations of States parties regarding the corporate sector and economic, social and cultural rights, E/C.12/2011/1, 2011.

Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the UN ‘Protect Respect and Remedy’ Framework, 2011.

Statements

This section features statements and assessments, expressed collectively and or individually, by the broad international group of civil society organizations, networks and campaigns advocating for a international binding instrument to address human rights abuses committed by transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

Collective statements

Statement of the Treaty Alliance on the 2nd session of the Intergovernmental Working Group on a legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises (TNCs OBEs), September 2016.  English | French | Spanish

UN Treaty must address corporate capture, April 2016

Enhance the International Legal Framework to Protect Human Rights from Corporate Abuse, 2015

First Treaty Alliance Statement, Bangkok, November 2013

Individual or group statements

Written submission from the Global Campaign to Reclaim People’s Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity to the Open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights for their second session (24 to 28 October 2016). French | Spanish

Written submission by the Indonesian Focal Point for Legally Binding Treaty Initiative to the second session of the OEWG on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights (24-28 October 2016)

International Commission of Jurists Proposals for Elements of a legally binding instrument on Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises to the second session of the OEWG on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights (24-28 October 2016)

Written contribution from CIDSE, Friends of the Earth Europe, Brot für die Welt, SOMO and IBFAN-GIFA to the Open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights for their second session (24 to 28 October 2016).

Written Submission by FIAN International, Franciscans International, CCFD-Terre Solidaire, the Colombian Commission of Jurists, La Plataforma Internacional Contra la Impunidad and Society for International Development for the second session of the Open-ended intergovernmental working group (OEIGWG) on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights (24-28 October 2016)

Written submission by Corporate Accountability Working Group (CAWG) of the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) to the United Nations’ Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Respect to Human Rights (IGWG), Second meeting of the IGWG at the Human Rights Council (24-28 October, 2016) . French | Spanish

FIDH Submission to the Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with respect to Human Rights, 30 September 2016

Corporate Accountability International submission to the second session of the United Nations’ Openended Intergovernmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Respect to Human Rights

Written contribution of Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) to the open-ended intergovernmental working group on Transnational Corporations (TNCs) and other business enterprises with respect to Human Rights (IGWG), second session ( 24-28 October 2016)

Friends of the Earth Europe petition: Stop Corporate Campaign - We need rights for peoples and rules for businesses (supported by Global Justice Now, EWNI, Progressio, Milieudefensie-FoE Netherlands, SOMO, Les Amis de la Terre France, CCFD-Terre Solidaire, ActionAid France, Aitec, Ethique sur l'Etiquette, Sherpa, FIAN France, CIDSE, Supply Cha!nge, Friends of the Earth Europe, ITUC, WemoveEU, ActionAid, Nazemi (Czech Republic), FoE Germany-BUND, Manitese, FoE Finland), September 2016. 

French Dutch

Written comments from FIAN International to the consultation draft of ‘The Accountability and Remedy Project’ prepared by the OHCHR, HRC session June 2016

Business and Human Rights: Addressing gaps. Joint ECCJ, Amnesty International, CIDSE, FIDH and Friends of the Earth Europe letter to the EU Member States representatives on the Council of the EU Working Party on Human Rights (COHOM), 20 April 2016.

First session of the IGOEWG, July 2015: click here to access all the statements delivered during each panel of the first session.

Research documents

Studies on treaty related international law issues

This section features input documents, research papers and reports produced by civil society organizations, resource centers, academia, analyzing in their respective domains key issues and challenges with respect to human rights abuses, corporate impunity, and remedy and obligations within the international law and the human rights law. 

Approaching States’ Obligations Under a Prospective Legally Binding Instrument on TNCs and Other Business Enterprises In Regard to Human Rights, by Kinda Mohamadieh, South Centre, Policy Brief No 30, October 2016

Scope of the Proposed International Legally Binding Instrument on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Respect to Human Rights, by Carlos M. Correa, South Centre Policy Brief, 28 September 2016

UN Treaty on transnational corporations, other business enterprises & human rights: Options for justice, Legal seminar report; by Bread for the World, Friends of the Earth Europe, CIDSE and SOMO. Brussels, 30-31 May 2016

The Struggle for a UN Treaty: Towards Global Regulation on Human Rights and Business, by Jens Martens and Karolin Seitz, Global Policy Forum/Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung—New York Office, August 2016

Crime, tort and the violation of human rights - Eight questions and a conclusion on human rights in the field of business enterprises, by Rolf Künnemann, FIAN, December 2015

Business and Human Rights: Commencing discussions on a legally binding instrument, by South Centre, November 2015

Treaty on Business and Human Rights: Two Major Issues, Centro de Direitos Humanos E Empresas (HOMA)

8 Proposals for the Binding Treaty on Transnational Corporation and Human Rights, by Global Campaing to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity, 20 July 2015   

White Paper: Options for a Treaty on Business and Human Rights, by Douglass Cassel (Notre Dame Law School) & Anita Ramasastry (University of Washington School of Law), May 2015

Holding Companies Accountable - Lessons from transnational human rights litigation, Booklet by ECCHR, Brot für die Welt and MISEREOR,  November 2014

A Model Human Rights Clause for the EU’s International Trade Agreements, Study by Lorand Bartels, Misereor & German Institute for Human Rights, February 2014

Need and Options for a New International Instrument in the Field of Business and Human Rights, by International Commission of Jurist, 2014

 Good Business? Analysis of the UK Government Action Plan on Business & Human Rights, by CORE, December 2013

The Third Pillar: Access to Judicial Remedies for Human Rights Violations by Transnational Business, by Gwynne Skinner, Robert McCorquodale,  Olivier De Schutter, 2013,

Direct vs. Indirect Obligations of Corporations Under International Law, by Carlos Manuel Vázquez, Georgetown University Law Center, January 2005

Beyond Voluntarism: Human Rights and the Developing International Legal Obligations of Companies, by International Council on Human Rights Policy, 2002

Studies on treaty related national inputs and case studies

National Action Plans on Human Rights and Business: Inputs from the Brazilian Reality, Centro de Direitos Humanos E Empresas (HOMA), Januaary 2016

Studies on treaty related issues by other thematic entry points

The section includes a selection of research papers, reports and briefings documenting the impact on people’s economic, social and cultural rights as well as on the environment, of irresponsible transnational corporations. In many cases these abuses can be linked or attributed to international donor initiatives, foreign investments, infrastructural projects, public private partnerships, trade agreements, which remain unpunished despite affecting the lives of ordinary people worldwide in a way that is often irreversible.  This thematic bird-eye view highlights the common challenges existing across different fields (ex. agriculture, food and nutrition, health and education, access to resources, climate chance, environmental justice, financing for development, trade, access to markets) and the need to create linkages and stay united.

Land grabbing and human rights: The involvement of European corporate and financial entities in land grabbing outside the European Union, by Jun Borras, Roman Herre, Philip Seufert, Stephan Backes , Daniel Fyfe , Laura Michele, Elyse Mills. Commissioned by the European Parliament, June 2016 | In early research on land grabbing, the initial focus was on foreign companies investing abroad, with a particular focus on those based in countries such as China, Gulf States, South Korea, and India. In recent years, it has become evident that the range of countries land investors originate in is far broader, and includes both North Atlantic - and EU-based actors. In this study -- conducted by a research team led by TNI Fellow Jun Borras, with contributions from several TNI staff -- we offer both quantitative and qualitative data illustrating the involvement of EU-based corporate and financial entities in land deals occurring outside of the EU. This study also analyses the global land rush within a human rights framework, examining the implications of particular land deals involving EU-based investors and their impact on communities living in areas where the investments are taking place. The research presented here builds partly on Cotula’s 2014 study on the drivers and human rights implications of land grabbing, but differs in that it focuses explicitly on particular cases of possible, actual or potential human rights abuses and violations, in the context of activities involving European corporate and financial entities. In our conclusions, we offer a series of recommendations on how the EU can more effectively address these issues.

UN Treaty Bodies: Guide to the Committee on the Rights of the Child’s General Comment on Business and Children’s Rights, by International Commission of Jurist, April 2016

Report, video: Extractive companies, human rights and protests in Perù, by International Commission of Jurist, March 2016 | Today, the ICJ published a new report (in Spanish) analysing the impact of extractive companies on economic, social and cultural rights of many local communities in the country. Mining activities have resulted in massive social protests in Peru recently. Planning, exploration and exploitation of mineral resources in Peru are often linked with violation of economic, social and cultural rights of indigenous and rural communities, the report says. The study also analyses the response of the State to the demands of the communities, following abuses and violence generated by the mining activities and projects. It formulates recommendations to the Peruvian authorities to ensure the protection of human rights of local communities, safeguard the environment in which they live, and end the violations they face. The report is the result of a field mission in Peru, in which participated María Clara Galvis, a Colombian lawyer, Rafael Uzcátegui, a Venezuelan sociologist, and Sandra Ratjen, ICJ Senior Legal Adviser on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

El Quimbo: megaprojects, ESC rights, and protests in Colombia, by International Commission of Jurist, March 2016 | The ICJ launched a new report (in Spanish) documenting the impact of the El Quimbo dam project on the economic, social and cultural rights, as well as the environment, of the people living in the Colombian Huila Department. The report highlights the response of both the State and the company behind the project to the demands of the affected communities, following massive social protests, conflicts and legal actions. It also formulates a series of recommendations to ensure that the human rights and the environment in the region are protected and to end all the abuses against the local communities. The report is the result of a field mission in Colombia, in which participated the ICJ Commissioners Philippe Texier (France) and Belisário dos Santos Junior (Brazil), Sandra Ratjen, ICJ Senior Legal Adviser on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Colombian lawyer Alberto León Gómez.

Investing in our future: Makingthe UK’s public-private partnerships fit for purpose,by Cafod, April 2015

Political brief on the principles on responsible investment in agriculture and food systems, by Silvia Kay, TNI, March 2015

Lawyers subverting the public interest. Lobby group EFILA's stake in investment arbitration, by TNI, 2015 | In response to growing public criticism of international investment law, a new lobby group has emerged, EFILA, seeking to influence European officials. This briefing exposes how EFILA represents an attempt by the arbitration industry to fend off much-needed reforms in order to protect a highly lucrative business.

Fit for whose purpose? by Barbara Adamsand Gretchen Luchsinger, Global Policy Watch, 2015 | Debates around the Post-2015 Agenda many times circle, directly or otherwise, around the role of the state, with some camps continuing to promote its central responsibility. Others call for more room for “stakeholders” to be responsible—notably, the private sector. For a look at how the balance between public and private responsibility has shifted, and what this means in the real world in terms of adherence to international standards and norms, one needs to look no further than the United Nations itself.

Why Public-Private partnership do not work, by David HALL, PSIRU, February 2015 | The report by Public Services International assesses the experience with public-private partnerships (PPP) in both industrialized and developing countries. The many case studies analyzed, from United Kingdom to Chile, shows that PPPs have failed to live up to their promise. In most cases, they are an expensive and inefficient way of financing infrastructure and services, since they conceal public borrowing, while providing long-term state guarantees for profits to private companies. The author proposes a public alternative to this system, in which national and local governments can continue to develop infrastructure by using public finance for investment, and public sector organisations to deliver the service.

An ISDS Carve-out to Support Action on Climate Change, by Gus Van Harten, Osgoode Hall Law School, Legal Studies Research Paper Series, September 2015

La faim un bu$iness comme un autre. Comment la nouvelle alliance du G8 menace la sécurité alimentaire en Afrique, by Oxfam France, Action Contre la Faim, CCFD-Terre Solidaire, 2014

Privatized Remedy and Human Rights: Re-thinking Project-Level Grievance Mechanisms by Mining Watch Canada and Rights and Accountability in Development, December 2014,

Taking Care of Business: The impact of big business on people living in poverty. Policy Paper by SCIAF, July 2014 | Businesses, as part of society, must be open about their impacts on society, the environment and human rights; and should be held to account for their activities. This paper examines what is meant by the term 'business' and what big business looks like. Furthermore, using the experience of SCIAF partners in Colombia, the paper explore the role of big business and its impact on people living in poverty and on our planet making suggestions on the kind of good practice needed and how this can be promoted.

Corporate Influence on the Business and Human Rights Agenda of the United Nations, by Global Policy Forum, Brot für die Welt and MISEREOR, June 2014 | A new GPF working paper, jointly published with Brot für die Welt and MISEREOR, gives an overview of the debate around how to create an international legally binding instrument to hold transnational corporations accountable for human rights abuses. The scope reaches early efforts to formulate the UN Code of Conduct to the current initiative for a binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights. The paper particularly focuses on the responses by TNCs and their leading interest groups to the various UN initiatives, specifies the key actors and their objectives. In this context it also highlights features of the interplay between business demands and the evolution of regulatory debates at the UN. This provides an indication of the degree of influence that corporate actors exert and their ability – in cooperation with some powerful UN member states – to prevent international binding rules for TNCs at the UN.

A transatlantic corporate bill of rights. Investor privileges in EU-US trade deal threaten public interest and democracy, by TNI, 2013 | This briefing analyses leaked proposals for so-called investor-state dispute settlement under the proposed EU-US deal and reveals a determined lobby campaign from industry lobby groups and law firms to grant unprecedented rights to corporations to sue governments for legislation and regulations that interfere with their profits. The proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US will open the floodgate to multi-million Euro lawsuits from corporations challenging democratic policies to protect the environment and public health

Opinions

Trade Agreements and the Globalisation of Fascism, by Franklin Frederick, in The Dawn News, 12 September 2016

Video interview -Challenging and rethinking mineral extraction in the Philippines and beyond, by CIDSE, July 2016

UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights: Homa releases analysis of the report of the visit to Brazil and launches campaign for the legally binding treaty,  29 June 2016

Video Interview - Corporate impunity and lack of access to justice in Colombia: How a UN Treaty could help, by CIDSE, 17 June 2016

Business and human rights: The world is still waiting for action, by Jerome Chaplier,  European Coalition for Corporate Justice, in Euractiv, 16 June 2016

The real agenda for the Dutch presidency by Anne van Schaik and Paul de Clerck, In New Europe, 10 February 2016

5 years of failure - Why UN Voluntary Measures aren't stopping bad business behavior. Marking the 5th anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, by Anne van Schaik, Lucia Ortiz, In Common Dreams, 15 June 2016

Business and human rights: Commencing discussions on a legally binding agreement, South Centre Bulletin, 23 November 2015, Issue 87-88

The treaty on TNC's and the struggle to stop corporate impunity: An interview with civil society, by Gonzalo Berron, TNI, October 2015

Useful links

Video: Un Minuto pelos Direitos Humanos

CIDSE members organizations resource page on business and human rights

ESCR-Net & FIDH Treaty Initiative resource page

FIAN resource page on Extra-Territorial Obligations (ETOs)

FoEI resource page 'Towards a binding treaty on transnational corporations and human rights'

Dismantle Corporate Power Campaign

Business and human rights resource centre

Open Ended Inter-Governmental Working Group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights