26th Human Rights Council session ends: NGOs highlight progress on business and human rights, and concerns around “protection of the family”

The ICJ and other civil society organizations highlighted progress in relation to accountability in the field of business and human rights, together with some continuing concerns, and unacceptable procedural tactics including in relation to a resolution on “protection of the family”.

In the joint statement to the UN Human Rights Council read by the International Service for Human Rights, organizations regretted that the work of the Human Rights Council is being hampered through procedural motions to stifle debate.

The procedural motion blocking the amendment of the family resolution and preventing the Council from voting on the inclusion of consensus language recognizing the existence of diverse forms of families, is a case in point. States that prevent such discussion abdicate their responsibility as members to engage in dialogue on the universal promotion and protection of human rights.

The organizations are deeply disappointed that the Council has adopted a resolution that deliberately omits agreed language on diversity and has the potential to undermine the rights of women and children.

On the issue of business and human rights, the organizations broadly welcomed the adoption of two resolutions, while regretting that the sponsors of each were not able to negotiate a single consensus-based text.

The organizations jointly affirmed that is imperative that all stakeholders now work together in a positive spirit to ensure both the effective implementation of the UN Guiding Principles and the development of a treaty on business and human rights that strengthens corporate accountability for human rights violations and access to justice for victims as all States promised.

The organizations expressed disappointment at the lack of reflection in either resolution of the risks, threats, attacks and reprisals faced by human rights defenders and States’ obligations to protect them, and reminded States of their obligation to do so regardless of the political climate in the Council.

The artificial distinction between transnational corporations and other “national” business enterprises as it relates to their obligation to respect human rights and consult all of the relevant stakeholders, including defenders, was also a matter of deep regret.

The statement also referred to issues in Belarus, Egypt and Bahrain; the need for progress on the issue of reprisals; and thanked outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay for her work, while looking ahead to working with incoming High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein to support human rights defenders and promote and protect all human rights for all.

HRC26-JointNgoClosingStatement-Advocacy-non-legal submission-2014 (full statement in PDF)

A press release by ICJ concerning the Business and Human Rights resolutions is available by clicking here.

AdvocacyNon-legal submissions