The following ICJ statement was delivered at the start of the 8th session of the Intergovernmental Working Group in charge of elaborating a new Legally Binding Instrument on business and human rights
The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) welcomes the convening of this 8th session and hopes to see numerous and active participation of delegations from all regions.
The current multi-faceted human rights crisis affecting the world demands collective response more than ever. There is a growing recognition of the need for a treaty on business and human rights as a key element in promoting business conduct that is respectful of human rights and the environment and provides justice for victims.
The ICJ appreciates the efforts made for the establishment of a Group of Friends of the Chair. Regrettably, that Group is not yet functional and has not produced an updated Draft treaty for discussion during this session, as foreseen in the conclusions and recommendations of the 7th session.
In this context, we have to work with the Third Revised Draft plus proposals formulated during the 7th session, which are still a good basis for discussion. The ICJ considers that the vague and ambiguous language contained in some of the Chair’s informal suggestions, deprive them of the clarity, precision and robustness that is required for this legally binding instrument to effectively accomplish its purpose to improve protection of human rights in the context of global business activity.
The ICJ calls all delegations to work for a strong, legally-sound and enforceable treaty. Such treaty should build on existing instruments and draw from good national developments. While national and regional good practices are positive they are not enough. We need global collective action and a level-playing field for all actors.
The ICJ reiterates that key elements of this treaty are improved access to effective remedies, prevention and accountability.