The Debate about having a debate about a business and human rights treaty

Castan Centre for Human Rights Law

By Joanna Kyriakakis

The current debate about the desirability of renewing discussions on a UN Business and Human Rights treaty frustrates me a little. There. I said it. I am not referring to conversations about what the substance of any treaty might look like, which will in due course be necessary. Rather, it is opposition to the renewal of treaty efforts at all that I am struggling with. I say this well aware of the political history in this area and, in particular, that the last proposed treaty, the Draft Norms for Transnational Corporations, inspired polarised views.

To provide some background. Following recommendations of the UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights (SRSG), the UN adopted the Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework (2008) and Guiding Principles (2011) to guide international action on business and human rights. According to this approach, states will commit more strongly to remedying the…

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