Decent Work in Global Supply Chains

Unit 7, Lecture 4 - A Binding Treaty on TNCs


There are a lack of binding instruments in the international legal framework to make respect of worker / human rights obligatory and not just voluntary.

IN 2014, the Governments of Ecuador and South Africa sent a proposal to UN human rights council for an international legally binding instrument (treaty).

Key elements of the proposed instrument:
- Shared liability of TNCs for the activities of their subsidiaries, suppliers, subcontractors, etc.
- Extension of labor, social and environmental liabilities along the GSCs
- corporations / managers held accountable for action or omission with relation to labor and human rights along GSCs
- universal and binding → will replace voluntary will w/ liability

June 26 2014 – UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution to establish an intergovernmental working group “to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises”. Until that point at the international level politics and businesses had relied mainly on voluntary initiatives (i.e. the UN guiding principles on business and human rights).

The treaty alliance recommends the establishment of a binding treaty to regulate the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises w/ respect of human rights.
The US and the European Union were against the formation of a intergovernmental working group.

Proposals for such an agreement:
- definition of responsibilities and liability for human rights abuses
- due diligence commitments, including human rights risk and impact assessments
- monitoring and enforcement mechanisms
- enhanced intergovernmental cooperation to investigation, sentence and enforce judgments
- clarification of the relation between the treaty and bi-and multilateral trade and investment agreements.
- establishment of extraterritorial obligations for states to protect human rights

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