Ref. :  000038512
Date :  2015-07-17
Language :  English
Home Page / The whole website
fr / es / de / po / en

Op-Ed: TTIP and UN Treaty – the EU must stand up for Human Rights

Author :  FIDH

Human rights violations by companies happen on a daily basis and all too often go unpunished. Last week, discussions took place at the UN in Geneva to introduce international regulation holding businesses accountable for the damage they cause, and provide affected communities with access to justice. While the EU chose not to participate in these discussions, it has however engaged in another round of TTIP negotiations, closing this Friday. We are left questioning who the EU is really standing up for, its citizens or corporate profit ?


Despite public opposition - an online anti-TTIP petition has so far raised over 2.5 million signatures - the tenth round of negotiations on the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, better known as TTIP, started this Monday in Brussels. The EU Commission is eagerly working with US representatives and corporate stakeholders in creating a deal that will benefit foreign investors and offer them the best possible protection, enforceable rights and remedies. This comes in striking contrast to the EU delegation’s interrupted engagement during last week’s discussions at the UN regarding an international instrument to regulate corporate behaviour and to help victims of corporate abuse seek justice when their rights are violated.

In fact, the first session of the United Nations Intergovernmental Working Group towards a binding Treaty on Transnational Corporations (TNCs) and other business enterprises with regards to human rights, which took place 6-10 July in Geneva, began with a European objection to the programme of work. The EU and few Member States present in the room asked for a broad interpretation of the Treaty’s mandate to include all businesses and not just TNCs. When, a day later, their proposal still found no support among other States, the EU block chose to retreat from the discussions.

The issue of scope enlargement asserted by the EU is supported by both civil society organisations and human rights experts. It is undeniable that while addressing the specific challenges posed by transboundary corporate activities, to avoid creating loopholes, the future Treaty must take into consideration corporate complexities and encompass all businesses, not just TNCs.

The predicament is that rather than raising its arguments constructively in a dedicated session, the EU chose to introduce them as preliminary conditions before the start of discussions. This led to a foreseeable delay in the proceedings, and was later used by the EU to step-out from the discussions. Looking back, it is hard not to wonder if the EU’s “take it or leave it” attitude was indeed a political faux pas, or a plan to derail discussions and create an exit strategy.

Adopting an ‘empty chair’ policy in Geneva instead of engaging in a productive debate, next to the strong trans-institutional push for the Commission-backed TTIP, paints a grim picture of a Europe that puts corporate interest ahead of human rights and companies before people.

We are at a turning point and the European and world population’s future relies on ending irresponsible and unscrupulous business practices and ensuring access to justice on a national, regional and international level. The process of making human rights globally enforceable must become a priority for the EU and Member States. This can only be achieved through the development of comprehensive regulation establishing clear rules and effective accountability mechanisms rendering abuses a costly and risky business venture.

The EU must set itself apart from States like the US, Canada or Australia and prove it is not only claiming to be a human rights defender but actually is one, both at home and abroad. During the Geneva talks a consensus about the necessity of a binding instrument was reached among many participating States, experts and civil society. All parties agreed that developing transnational regulation is essential to addressing the legislative gaps which have left victims disarmed in their fight for justice. It would also be a mandatory step in rebalancing the power between host states and foreign investors, and assuring that people’s rights come before transnational agreements and private financial gain. The EU needs to engage constructively and in good faith in the Treaty process to deliver an historical advance for human rights and end corporate impunity.

Karim Lahidji
President, FIDH

Jerome Chaplier
Coordinator, European Coalition for Corporate Justice

Paul de Clerk
Coordinator, Friends of the Earth Europe Economic Justice Program

Op Ed: TTIP and UN Treaty: the EU must stand up for Human Rights

Op Ed: TTIP and UN Treaty: the EU must stand up for Human Rights


Rate this content
 
 
 
Same author:
 flecheCondemned to silence: the situation of women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia
 flecheThe United Nations Counter-Terrorism Complex: Bureaucracy, Political Influence, Civil Liberties
 flecheHonduras: Protected Areas and Water Resources Threatened by the Granting of Licences for Hydroelectric Plants
 flecheHuman Rights Coalition Calls on ICC to Investigate Role of Chiquita Executives in Contributing to Crimes against Humanity
 flecheGuide des 100 mesures pour l’éradication des violences à l’encontre des femmes
 flecheReport reveals links between five French banks and insurance companies and the Israeli settlements
 flecheBelarus: last country in Europe to carry out the death penalty
 flecheEU Decision: All citizens with a home larger than 60m2 will have to take in a migrant
 flecheHonduras: Human rights defenders between a rock and a hard place
 fleche[COMIC STRIP] Violence Against Women in Africa
 flecheColombie, The human cost of Oil :
 flecheDeath Penalty: Compilation of FIDH and leagues press releases from 2013 to 2016
 flecheReport slams year-long application of state of emergency in France
 flecheFIDH looks back at 2015 in our traditional comic strip
 flecheBeing born a girl means clearing a lot of hurdles
 flecheThe Amesys Case: the victims anxious to see tangible progress
 flecheMake way for Justice #2: 40 cases to understand universal jurisdiction
 flecheBeing born a girl means clearing a lot of hurdles
 flecheCriminalization of human rights defenders: an alarming phenomenon in Latin America
 flecheBurundi conflict: A timeline of how the country reached crisis point
 flecheFive years after the revolution : Egypt’s Poorest Human Rights Record in its Modern History
 flecheAsia and human rights: debunking the myths
 flecheBetween Round-ups and Regularisation: Morocco’s Vacillating Migration Policy
 flecheHuman rights organisations alarmed by bill that will give surveillance agencies dangerous new powers
 flecheBeijing +20: Broken promises, women’s rights under threat across the globe
 fleche“Whether or not you want to, you have to go”
 flecheCambodia : Sentence of 2 former Khmer Rouge leaders to life imprisonment is historic
 flecheIsrael-OPT: A New Cycle of Violence whose Targets are Civilians
 flecheCentral African Republic, "They must all leave or die". Investigative report: Answering war crimes with crimes against humanity
 flecheEgypt: Epidemic of sexual violence continues
 flecheInternational day of the disappeared 2011
 flechePosition paper on the creation of a new UN mechanism on laws that discriminate against women
 flecheSteadfast in protest - 2010 Annual Report
 flecheFirst victims recognised by the International Criminal Court
13
SEARCH
Keywords   go
in 
Translate this page Traduire par Google Translate
Share

Share on Facebook
FACEBOOK
Partager sur Twitter
TWITTER
Share on Google+Google + Share on LinkedInLinkedIn
Partager sur MessengerMessenger Partager sur BloggerBlogger
Other items
where is published this article: