L'oeil de la Genève Internationale
September 2017

On 5th September, the International Commission of Jurists and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies will co-organize a public conference: Elements of a treaty on business and human rights.

In June 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council established an inter-governmental working group to "elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises". The third session of the working group will take place from 23-27 October 2017 at the Palais des Nations.

The 5th September event takes place at a critical moment to inform the process of elaboration by the working group. It will foster the exchange of views among international actors, with the aim of creating the basis for consensus on possible contents of a legally binding instrument in the field of business and human rights.

The prospective treaty is expected to contribute to fill some accountability gaps in the international normative framework, in relation to the operations of business enterprises in terms of human rights. The treaty should also enhance States' action to ensure effective remedies and reparations for the victims of abuses. This treaty will be the first in the international human rights law framework to address directly activities of business corporations.

The issue of human rights impacts by business enterprises has reached the top of the international agenda, and several non-treaty instruments have been developed, foremost among them the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The process towards a treaty in this field is expected to build on the achievements so far, filling remaining gaps and enhancing rules for and action by states and businesses alike.

Text provided by International Commission of Jurists 

This photograph by Georges Rodger shows a cleaner on the Empire State building in 1950. Born in Cheshire, George Rodger served in the British Merchant Navy. After a short spell in America, he worked as a photographer for the BBC's The Listener magazine. In 1947, Rodger was invited to join Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Seymour and William Vandivert in founding Magnum.