Joint oral statement on the scope of a treaty on business and human rights

The ICJ and 15 other NGOs participating in the first session of the OEIWG to elaborate a treaty on business and human rights highlighted that in principle all conduct by all types of business enterprises, whether local or transnational, shall be addressed in the legally binding instrument.

The footnote in the preamble should not be interpreted as limiting in any way the scope of possible discussions in the Open Ended Intergovernmental Working Group (OEIWG) or any analysis or recommendations that may be reported back to the Council on a future treaty.

Business enterprises that do not have any or any significant transnational operations no doubt are capable of and in many instances have been responsible for human rights abuses no less serious in scale or severity than those of transnational businesses.

The people whose human rights are abused directly or indirectly by businesses are unlikely to distinguish whether the business enterprise that causes them harm has transnational ownership or operations; nor are affected people likely to excuse abuses they suffer from a “local” business simply because the entity lacks a transnational element.

From the point of view of those whose human rights are affected by business activities, the key consideration is not the formal character of the business entity, but instead the their practical access to effective remedy and reparation for the harm they have suffered.

If a treaty is going to take the view and needs of those adversely affected by business activity as a central concern, it must address all business enterprises that can potentially carry out abuses and not only on those with transnational links.

The statement can be downloaded here: Joint Oral Statement on Scope v.2