Binding instrument on business and human rights: Working Group holds its first session

From July 6 to 10, 2015, a UN working group* convened its first meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss a legal instrument on human rights and transnational corporations. The working group was established by UN Human Rights Council Resolution A/HRC/RES/26/9.

The inaugural session was attended by representatives of UN member and observer states, UN agencies and other intergovernmental organizations, and national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations with consultative status at the UN Economic and Social Council. The session was also broadcasted live and archived at UN Web TV.

After electing Ambassador Maria Fernanda Espinosa of Ecuador as Chairperson-Rapporteur, the participants focused on the scope of coverage of the future instrument and on principles and key elements it should include, such as state obligations, legal liability of transnational corporations and other business entities, as well as national and international mechanism for access to remedies. They also acknowledged the importance of taking into account the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as a reference point in the drafting process.

The Working Group will convene its second session in 2016. In the meantime, it will engage in informal consultations with various stakeholders.

* The Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group for the Elaboration of an International Legally Binding Instrument on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with respect to Human Rights.