New Position Paper: Toward global Regulation on Human Rights and Business

Position paper of the Treaty Alliance Germany on the UN treaty process on transnational corporations and other business enterprises


Executive Summary

Trade and investment protection agreements facilitate business enterprises’ access to markets and raw materials, and protect investor interests with enforceable rights. Although human rights are a cornerstone of international law, so far there are only voluntary guidelines to safeguard them within the activities of global enterprises. This needs to change; human rights need a mandatory commitment. This is where the “UN treaty process” comes in. It offers the chance for binding international regulation of global business: Since 2015, an intergovernmental working group has been negotiating an international human rights treaty that is binding for the contractual parties, outlines clear rules for business enterprises and strengthens access to justice for affected parties. The signatory organizations of this position paper welcome this initiative and call for a treaty that:

  • compels states to legally obligate its corporations to respect human rights, including within their extraterritorial activities, subsidiaries, and supply chains;
  • grants effective legal protection to affected parties, also at the courts of the companies’ home states;
  • regulates how states co-operate in transnational cases to hold business enterprises to account;
  • determines that the obligations of the treaty on business and human rights have primacy over the obligations of trade and investment protection agreements;
  • provides for a committee of independent experts to receive state reports on the progress of the implementation of the treaty and review individual complaints against states;
  • initiates a process to create an international human rights court at which affected parties can bring legal action against transnational corporations over human rights abuses.

The Treaty Alliance ( is an international association of more than 700 civil society organizations and 1,000 individuals formed with the aim of supporting progress toward an international human rights treaty on transnational corporations and other business enterprises. This position paper was compiled by the following member organizations of the Treaty Alliance Germany ( Attac Deutschland, Brot für die Welt, Bund für Umwelt- und Naturschutz Deutschland, Christliche Initiative Romero, CorA-Netzwerk für Unternehmensverantwortung, FIAN Deutschland, Forschungs- und Dokumentationszentrum Chile-Lateinamerika, Forum Fairer Handel, Forum Umwelt und Entwicklung, Global Policy Forum, medico international, MISEREOR, PowerShift, SÜDWIND and WEED. The positions published here are supported by the network’s member organizations.

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