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The report launched last week by the Intergovernmental Working Group of the United Nations Human Rights Council mandated to elaborate a binding treaty on transnational corporations and human rights violations was “an important step” towards the third round of negotiations to take place in October, stated Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) on Monday.
The report launched on March 9th by the Working Group´s Chair, María Fernanda Espinosa from Ecuador, “reflects rich proposals from states, civil society, affected communities, academics, UN experts and other actors over the last two years”, added the environmental federation in a press release.
The report was presented at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, UN headquarters in that city, where the governments are scheduled to resume negotiations in October, in the framework of a process that began in 2014. So far, there is no UN law that forces transnational corporations to respect human rights. There are only voluntary measures.
Now it is expected that the Ecuadorian Chair of the Intergovernmental Working Group will present the elements of the future treaty in June. From that moment on, it will be possible to comment on the text, followed by a third round of negotiations in October on the basis of these contents.
In an interview with Real World Radio, activist Anne van Schaik, Finance Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, who was present last week in the sessions at the Palais des Nations, highlighted that “many states are welcoming the report and saying they would want to work constructively” towards the binding treaty.
Along these lines, van Schaik said that there is “a good number of states welcoming the report: Thailand, Malaysia, Palestine, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nigeria, Bolivia, Botswana, South Africa, Cuba, Tunisia”.
But also Anne considered that the role of the European Union has been positive, thanking Espinosa´s work and calling “Ecuador to publish the elements of the treaty as soon as possible”.
This is a quite different role than that taken last year, when the official UE delegation in Geneva did not recognize the need for a binding treaty on transnational corporations and human rights, said the representative of Friends of the Earth Europe. There has been “a lot of progress on behalf of the EU from 2014 to where we are now”. “In 2014 the EU was very much against. (…) Now they are thinking on next steps in order to prepare for October 2017 session”, she added. And called the EU to focus on the contents of the treaty.
Finally, the environmental activist believes that “it is important to find other champions besides Ecuador that can work with us on this treaty”.
“As women, we are the ones who maintain hope. And I think that while we do this, we need to encourage many other women and tell them to dare to go out, to raise their voices, to avoid being afraid to speak. (…) Women have been told to be afraid within our social and cultural circles. (…) We are covered by a blanket of fear, but we need to move forward with a blanket of hope”, said Jakeline Romero Epiayu.
The European Union (EU) made clear this Friday in Geneva that it is ready to block the advance of the negotiations at the United Nations for a binding treaty on transnational corporations and human rights violations.
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