Drafting the Treaty - Elements and Process


"Ready, Steady, Debate!" -- Treaty Talks Begin at UN
The right treaty can benefit everyone and cohere with the Guiding Principles; to get there, we need a broad open debate.

Chip Pitts, Lecturer in Law, Stanford and Oxford


In this blog series, academics, professionals and civil society members comment on the negotiation process and draft elements of the proposed UN binding treaty, and its implications for the corporate accountability and business and human rights movement in general.

For more commentaries, opinions and statements on the proposed Treaty click here.




An instrument at the global level will help to level the playing field across jurisdictions, bringing more clarity to corporations with regard to the context in which they conduct their operations and more certainty for victims of corporate abuse with regard to access to remedy. 

Daniel Uribe & Kinda Mohamadieh, South Centre - Read more


Can a balance be achieved between a treaty that affords meaningful protection to victims of business-related human rights violations, while also attracting a meaningful number and mix of states to join the treaty?  

Doug Cassel, Professor of Law, Notre Dame law School - Read more


In this moment of great opportunities to advance the international human rights law framework and of great pressure from the international civil society...the Working Group Elements sets a good starting point for the debate. 


Manoela Carneiro Roland & Luiz Carlos Silva Faria Junior, Homa - Human Rights and Business Centre (Brazil) - Read more


The proposed treaty is also one of a number of current initiatives contributing to the development of a legal and governance ecosystem which seeks to regulate, in a broad sense, corporate engagement, conduct and accountability in the area of business and human rights.  All of these initiatives should remain a priority.

Nicole Bigby, Partner, Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP - Read more


The setting out of the draft elements constitutes a step forward from the more abstract discussions of the first two sessions. However, these positive items are at times overshadowed by the imprecise technique in several paragraphs, gaps, and some exaggerated formulations.

Carlos Lopez, Senior Legal Adviser at the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) - Read more


The Italian Government should provide more data about the implementation of the Italian National Action Plan on business and human rights, as an additional – and not alternative – tool to the legally binding instrument to be negotiated in Geneva.

Marta Bordignon, Co-founder, Human Rights International Corner - Read more


The Draft is concerned with transnational business conduct, regardless of the type of company to which it is attributable – local or otherwise...This formula permits to deal with the conduct of any corporation, provided that it has a transnational character, thus opting to potentially encompass all corporations.

Nicolás Carrillo-Santarelli, Associate Professor of International Law, La Sabana University (Colombia) - Read more [También disponible en español]


Without effective remedy on the ground, the treaty will fail the very people it is supposed to serve. We need a step up from the UNGPs; a step that moves us from voluntary commitments to binding and enforceable obligations.

Lydia de Leeuw, Researcher, SOMO (Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations) - Read more



If there is to be any hope of further international legalization in the business and human rights domain, civil society needs to help by advancing workable proposals that states cannot ignore or dismiss out of hand.

John G. Ruggie, Harvard Univ., former UN Special Representative on business & human rights - Read more


The treaty process must be used strategically – at all levels - as an opportunity to trigger change.

Geneviève Paul, Head of Globalisation & Human Rights, Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l’Homme (FIDH) - Read more


The most obvious place for the movement to start would be to press the members of the IGWiG to focus on remedy, in particular remedies provided by states.

Mark Taylor, Research Director, Rights and Security, at the Fafo Research Foundation (for Institute for Human Rights and Business) - Read more


An effort at complementarity is more useful to embedding human rights in business than a competition between harder and softer law strategies.

Phil Bloomer, Executive Director, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - Read more





NGO engagement in previous treaty-drafting negotiations provide models of successful strategies advocates can learn from.

Irene Pietropaoli, Consultant on business and human rights, based in Myanmar - Read More



Treaty provisions regulating the collection and dissemination of information could be beneficial for business, investors, consumers and affected communities.

Erika George, Professor of Law, University of Utah College of Law - Read More


We are hoping that they listen to the thousands of people who want to see their government make the most of this opportunity to provide genuine protection for the victims of human rights abuses committed by multinational corporations.

Aisha Dodwell, Campaigns and policy officer, Global Justice Now - Read More


It is necessary to continue with a plurality of initiatives in order to enhance victims’ access to remedies

Jernej Letnar Černič, Assistant Professor of Law, Graduate School of Government and European Studies, Brdo pri Kranju, Slovenia - Read More


There is a clear distinction between those states establishing rules and incentives for business to respect human rights, and those that show little political will in this regard.

Harriet E. Berg, Minister Counsellor, Norwegian mission to the UN and other international organisations in Geneva - Read More


The challenge for treaty campaigners is to come up with an ambitious yet achievable proposal and identify home States that are prepared to support it.

Marilyn Croser, Director of the CORE Coalition - Read more


The first session of the intergovernmental body was a good start, but the level of participation and debates needs to improve if it is going to reach the finishing line.

Carlos Lopez, Senior Legal Adviser at the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) - Read more


NGOs need to push governments to show leadership in the treaty process.

Phil Bloomer, Executive Director, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - Read more


If the treaty drafting process is to be credible, diplomatic and NGO efforts in the coming year, beginning without delay, are vital.

Doug Cassel, Professor of Law, Notre dame law School - Read more



In an unequal world, access to rights is also unequal. A binding treaty for human rights and businesses must consider victims' voices.

Tchenna Maso, Movement of People Affected by Dams (Movimento de Atingidos por Barragens) - Read more 



The treaty should reaffirm the need for states and businesses to protect and engage with defenders. For this to happen, human rights defenders’ voices must be heard loud and clear by the IGWG.

Ben Leather, Advocacy & Communications Manager, International Service for Human Rights - Read more


This treaty needs to reassert a clear distinction between those who should regulate and those who must be regulated.

Kate Lappin, co-authored with Haley Pedersen & Tessa Khan, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) - Read more


As the work around proposed a business and human rights treaty inches forward, we need strong measures in place to check industry interference right from the very beginning.

Bobby Ramakant, writer for Citizen News Service & WHO World No Tobacco Day Awardee 2008 - Read more


Policy makers, academics and corporate executives…[should] spend some time with the affected communities to experience their sufferings. In short, let the contours of the treaty be shaped by victims’ regulatory needs.

Surya Deva, Associate Professor, School of Law, City University of Hong Kong - Read more



Including corporate criminal liability for international crimes in the treaty is necessary but insufficient in itself if we want to maximise the impact of the treaty and call it a success.

Dr Nadia Bernaz, Middlesex University School of Law - Read More


If neither voluntary standards nor State obligations ensure the protection of victims, something is missing. That void can be filled by international corporate obligations.

Nicolás Carrillo-Santarelli, Associate Professor of International Law, La Sabana University (Colombia) - Read more


The most effective way to encourage respect for human rights and to enhance remedies for human rights violations is for host states to have robust human rights protection mechanisms.

Linda Kromjong, Secretary General, International Organisation of Employers (IOE) - Read more


A treaty could force States to do what they will otherwise not do unilaterally; place an express duty of care on parent companies and reverse the burden of proof.

Gabriela Quijano, Business & Human Rights Legal Adviser, Amnesty International - Read more


We are not ready for a business and human rights treaty and the efforts to create one are misdirected...The council should develop clear rules to prohibit corporate conduct that falls below this level.

Daniel Bradlow, SARCHI Professor of Intl. Development Law and African Economic Relations, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria - Read more



A binding international treaty that imposes human rights obligations on businesses would be a monumental step towards protecting peaceful assembly and association rights.

Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly & association - Read more


A two-tiered system where one segment is required to respect human rights and another segment is not…could leave potential victims without access to remedies.  This contradicts a stated purpose of the treaty effort.

Tom Mackall, Vice President, Global Labour Relations, Sodexo - Read more