A Defining Moment for the UN Business and Human Rights Treaty Process

Claire Methven O'Brien (Lead / Corresponding author)

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The ongoing process to negotiate a UN treaty on business and human rights has its 8th annual session this week in Geneva. Though embraced by many NGOs, this initiative has so far failed to secure widespread support amongst states (see e.g. here and here) with wide divergences remaining regarding the proposed instrument’s objectives and design, as well as its relationship to the UN 2011 Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), an earlier soft law instrument championed by governments, businesses and international actors.

Yet there may be light on the horizon. Shortly before the next session, Ecuador, as Chair, introduced a cluster of new textual proposals relating to segments of latest iteration of the formal negotiating text. Though a belated and seemingly slight step, here we suggest why this intervention could, if seized by states and other parties, nudge the UN treaty process towards a more constructive pathway and ultimately fruitful result. By contrast, ignoring or dismissing this overture, we suggest, could further diminish the chances of strengthening international norms against business-related violations and abuses for years to come.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalVerfassungsblog: On Matters Constitutional
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2022


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