MEPs demand EU supports UN treaty to hold corporations accountable – Carthy
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has welcomed the vote in the European Parliament this week in which MEPs demanded that the Commission stop playing an obstructionist role in the United Nations in negotiations for a binding instrument on transnational corporations that protects human rights.
Carthy said: “I welcome the adoption of this excellent resolution from the European Parliament, which was adopted despite the opposition of Fine Gael’s EPP and the British Tories ECR groups.
“The process of corporate globalisation over recent decades has led to the proliferation of transnational corporations across the globe. It is clear that the existing voluntary framework to hold corporations accountable for human rights and environmental abuses they commit – so-called corporate social responsibility – is totally inadequate.
“Workers in one country find it impossible to hold corporations headquartered in another country accountable for abuses, while free trade and investment treaties create a massive power imbalance between the rights of corporations and the rights of local populations.
“The EU Council unanimously endorsed the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGP) on Business and Human Rights in 2011. But in practice the EU has only imposed enforceable human rights due diligence obligations on corporations involved in certain limited sectors such as conflict minerals and timber.
“We are still lacking a global binding treaty that can enforce corporate liability when it comes to human rights and environmental standards, and facilitate access to justice and remedies for victims of corporate activities that violate human rights.
“Negotiations for such a binding instrument are ongoing at the United Nations, which has been meeting annually to discuss this proposed treaty since 2014. The campaign is supported by developing countries, trade unions, environmental groups and NGOs across the world. But despite the fact that the European Parliament has demanded the Commission support a strong treaty, the EU has played a destructive role in these negotiations, attempting to block and weaken the power of this instrument.
“This resolution was timed to coincide with the next annual negotiation session of the UN Human Rights Council’s open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights (OEIGWG), which will begin in Geneva on 15 October.
“Human rights are not negotiable, but the current situation largely allows transnational corporations to act with impunity. If we’re serious about defending human rights around the world, we need to impose enforceable obligations of due diligence on corporate actors, and ensure victims have access to legal remedies for violations.
“The EU needs to finally stand up for communities, workers and the environment instead of protecting the ability of the wealthiest corporations in the world to continue to engage in pollution and the abuse of human and labour rights. The Commission needs to heed the call of the Parliament and support the treaty process instead of obstructing it at the UN negotiation in Geneva this month.” ENDS