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2 de junio | | | | | | | | | |

NO to the voluntary principles on transnational corporations and human rights: Friends of the Earth puts pressure ahead of UN session

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Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) already has a delegation in Geneva, Switzerland, to show the new regular session of the UN Human Rights Council –to take place from June 6th – 23rd, the widespread support to the negotiations for a binding treaty on transnational corporations and human rights, under negotiation in this multilateral framework.

The coordinator of the Economic Justice – Resisting Neoliberalism Program of Friends of the Earth International, Lucia Ortiz, of Brazil, told Real World Radio in an interview today that the goal is to take advantage of the opportunity brought by Geneva and the presence of High Commissioners, Special Rapporteurs and countries, to give strength to the treaty proposal and show the mobilization that supports it.

Several social movements and organizations member of the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and End Impunity, as well as the Treaty Alliance, are arriving to Geneva to take part of several activities next week and make the governments feel the pressure.

FoEI´s delegation includes the Chair of the federation, Karin Nansen, of Uruguay, and delegates from several continents. Among them, activist Abeer Butmeh, of PENGON-Friends of the Earth Palestine. June 5th, a day before the beginning of the UN Human Rights Council´s session, marks 50 years of Israeli occupation on Palestinian territory, with an outrageous record of violations of the rights of the Palestinian people on their lands and human rights abuses by Israeli companies. The case of Mekorot, Israeli water company that steals this natural resource from the Palestinians and prevents them from having access to it, is perhaps the most notorious.

The Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group of the UN Human Rights Council, which is negotiating the binding treaty on transnational corporations and their human rights violations, will have its third round of negotiations next October. This time, they will deal with a negotiation text.

The networks of social groups that are demanding a binding treaty in all continents believe that it is necessary to take advantage of every opportunity this year to express their position and that of communities affected by companies around the world. This weekend, already from Geneva, the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity will continue discussing in a seminar the contents that are needed in the future legal treaty, together with representatives of affected communities and experts, among others (see the program attached).

Next week, the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and End Impunity will hold several activities in parallel to the UN official session, in order to continue presenting their views.

One of their main concerns is that the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which are voluntary, continue to advance also in the framework of the UN.

Ortiz believes it is not enough to have voluntary mechanisms within the UN in light of the escalation of the violence against human rights defenders and the increasingly higher concentration of power by transnational corporations and their impunity. That is why the Global Campaign will organize a parallel activity in Geneva on June 7 to present their views in rejection to these voluntary principles (see the details attached), which the UN working group in charge of implementing them will start discussing officially the following day.

In the interview with Real World Radio, Ortiz highlighted the importance of the process of the Working Group which is negotiating the binding treaty on transnational corporations and their human rights violations, due to its intergovernmental nature and because of the fact that it includes the opinions of the victims of those human rights violations in different countries and regions. On the contrary, the other process taking place within the UN for voluntary guiding principles for companies on human rights, allows the participation of the companies involved in human rights abuses, as if they were as important as States, and demands “good practices” from them.

According to the Brazilian activist, countries are already sending clear signs of the fact that it is necessary to control transnational corporations and establish binding rules that need to be complied with. She also stated that many countries are committed to carrying forward this binding treaty proposal as well.

Imagen: Real World Radio / Friends of the Earth International

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