The first draft treaty on TNCs was presented to the Working Group responsible for elaborating a Binding treaty to regulate the activities of multinationals in Geneva in October 2018. As usual, CETIM has made an active contribution to the activities of the Group, arranging for dozens of civil society representatives to participate in the debates.
The draft treaty presented by the presidency of the Working Group (held by Ecuador) fails to adequately respond to the issues at stake. It represents a step backwards with regard to the discussions which have taken place in the last three sessions.
Indeed, the draft treaty in question does not stipulate the direct obligations of TNCs, nor does it contain an international mechanism for an effective implementation of the future Treaty. However, these are key points which could even be said to be the very purpose of the existence of the Working Group.
Establishing the direct obligations of TNCs is a central focus, as it will allow victims and affected communities to sue these companies when they violate rights. Without this, the status quo will remain in place, whereby victims and affected communities may, when possible, lodge a complaint against the State in order to obtain compensation for the damages incurred as a result of the violations or crimes committed by corporations. In other words, the current situation sees the people and citizens called upon to clean up the mess left by TNCs.
Implementation of an international appeals mechanism (the Global Campaign calls for a specific court to handle matters relating to TNCs) is also a key issue, given that many States are powerless, subject to blackmail or do not have the political will necessary to sue TNCs. The implementation of an international appeals mechanism will allow victims and affected communities to appeal to this court in the event that national appeals mechanisms fail.
For the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and End Impunity, which CETIM forms part of and coordinates at the UN, the draft treaty must address the expectations of victims and affected communities in their search for justice above all, but also protect peoples and citizens from the dangers which TNCs pose to democracy. With this in mind, the Campaign has presented comments and specific proposals concerning the draft treaty with a view to improving its content.
Having said this, the presentation of the initial draft treaty nonetheless allows the continuation of the UN process and encourages States to begin negotiations.
Following its work on the draft treaty, the Working Group has now granted States a period extending to the end of February 2019 in which they can send comments and proposed amendments.