The Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on TNCs and other Business Enterprises started its second session at the UN in Geneva

The second session of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises opened on 24 October 2016 at the UN in Geneva. The Working Group was established in 2014 by Human Rights Council Resolution 26/9 with the mandate to “elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.” Her Excellency Mrs Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, Ecuadorian Ambassador, was re-elected as Chair and, in contrast with last year’s session, the opening meeting and the adoption of the Programme of Work ran smoothly, without apparent controversies.

The European Union, who in July 2015 tried to impose conditions to expand the mandate of discussion on the scope of the Working Group, effectively threatening viability of the first session, welcomed this year’s programme. However, by emphasising that a treaty most not undermine implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, EU engagement seems predicated on an intention to widen the potential scope of the future instrument to include national businesses, not only those with a transnational characteristic. Although the EU is still adopting a conservative position, their willingness to participate in the discussions was widely commended by states in the Working Group.

A significant development in the morning occurred during the first intervention of the Brazilian delegation. Upon speaking the vast majority of civil society representatives left the negotiating room for several minutes to protest the recent change of power in Brazil, considered by many Brazilian civil society representatives here to be a “political coup”.

More information on today’s meetings can be viewed via the United Nations webcast here and on the Treaty Alliance's website #StopCorporateAbuse #BindingTreaty

Elise Golay, RIDH