Irish civil society push for a business and human rights treaty: Irish Times letter; Trócaire & Christian Aid side event in Geneva

Irish civil society organisations are continuing with their push for states to adopted a binding business and human rights treaty. In a letter in today’s Irish Times, a number of prominent Irish organisations have called specifically on Ireland and other EU states to engage more meaningfully in the current Geneva process in light of the ongoing harm to human rights globally connected with certain corporate activities:

Sir, – In a year where we have seen the Amazon burning due to corporate greed, and the murder of hundreds of human rights defenders protecting their environment and land from corporations, it is imperative that Ireland supports a UN treaty to ensure transnational corporations respect human rights.

Our organisations are seeing communities throughout the world being exploited for profit. Land is being seized, forests are being cut down and rivers are being poisoned. Communities face violent forced evictions, land grabs, brutal physical attacks and even murder.

At present, there is no legally binding business and human rights regulation to stop this exploitation and abuse. Voluntary measures have failed to prevent abuses and are simply not strong enough.

We cannot expect corporations, many of which have more economic clout than the small countries they operate in, to happily regulate themselves without a strong global legal framework in place.

In a globalised economy of transnational corporations and investments, we need a global response that will hold companies to account for their actions in all jurisdictions.

This week is a crucial opportunity to advance a binding UN treaty on business and human rights. Negotiations are taking place in Geneva from October 14th to 18th. This is a unique opportunity to put in place strong human rights protections for communities being threatened by corporations.

Disappointingly, the EU and Ireland has failed to support the treaty process so far. We are calling on Ireland and the EU to support the treaty and to champion human rights. Indigenous people, environmental defenders and communities at risk throughout the world are depending on it. – Yours, etc,

ANDREA ROCCA, Deputy Director, Front Line Defenders;

CAOIMHE de BARRA, Chief Executive, Trócaire;

CAROLINE WHYTE, Research and Communications, Feasta – the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability;

Dr GEARÓID Ó CUINN, Director, Global Legal Action Network;

KARIN DUBSKY, Director, Coastwatch Ireland;

KATE RUDDOCK, Deputy Director, Friends of the Earth Ireland;

JIM CLARKEN, Chief Executive, Oxfam Ireland;

JUSTIN BYRNE, Chairman, An Claíomh Glas;

MARK CUMMING, Head of Comhlámh;

PHILIP KEARNEY, Chairman, An Taisce;

ROSAMOND BENNETT, Chief Executive, and PAUL DONOHOE, Head of Media and Communications, Christian Aid Ireland, Dublin 6.

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To coincide with with fifth session of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on a potential treaty on business and human rights, Trócaire and Christian Aid are jointly-hosting a side event in Geneva on the impact of corporate activities on women and indigenous peoples. This panel discussion takes place on Tuesday, 15th October, 13:00-14:00, at Room XXIII of Palais des Nations and is co-hosted with Christian Aid, ACT Alliance and PODER. Here are the details:

This side-event aims to discuss why the ongoing process for a UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights is a historic opportunity to address the fragmentation of international law and change the current asymmetry of power between people, the planet and corporations, by regulating business activities in international human rights law. The expert panellists will share cases that demonstrate how the activities by corporate actors have differentiated impacts to local populations where corporates operate. It will discuss the revised zero draft of the legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises in relation to gender equality, indigenous rights and women’s rights. It will also present recommendations to States, international institutions and civil society on how to enhance the draft and ensure it is a robust and comprehensive document that holds businesses and states to account and upholds human rights standards.
* * * * *
Speakers will include Juana Toledo, a Mayan indigenous defender from Guatemala; Anna Shahnzaryan, an Armenian leading environmental leader; Bilio Bolaños, a human rights defender from CAJAR and member of the indigenous community of Awá, Nariño, Dr. Susan Power, Senior Legal Researcher and Advocacy Officer at Al-Haq; and Alejandra Scampini, a corporate capture specialist from Project PODER.
* * * *
For those not at the meeting in Geneva, the side event can be attended remotely using these conference details:
Public Dial-in:12259050@unog.ch
Audio dial-in : +41 22 917 7400
Please enter Conference ID: 12259050 #

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