Yesterday, United Nations member states resumed negotiations in the eighth session at the United Nations (UN) in Geneva with the mandate to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations. 

The consistent participation of members of communities affected by activities of transnational corporations, civil-society organisations, trade unions and social movements makes it one of the most strongly supported processes in the history of UN human rights treaty negotiations. The Global Campaign to Reclaim Peoples Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity (Global Campaign), representing more than 260 million people globally affected by Transnational Corporations has, once again, a strong presence in Geneva, where it is contributing decisively to the negotiations.

This session is marked by the unprecedented broad participation of countries with a strong presence of TNCs headquarters such as the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Switzerland, Germany and as well as the EU delegation, although most of these states are still not engaging constructively on the process. On the other hand, Global South states and civil society unequivocally defended the importance and urgency of having a strong legally binding instrument to regulate TNCs.

The opening of this session, on October 24, was marked by a proposal by the Chair of the negotiations, Ecuador, to negotiate both the existing 3rd draft agreed in the previous 7 sessions, and a newly proposed informal text from the Chair. This proposal was strongly opposed by civil society, affected communities and trade unions in a joint statement by the Global Campaign, the Treaty Alliance, ECR-Net, Feminists for a Binding Treaty and Young Friends of the Treaty. 

This criticism was also shared by many countries, including the 54 African states by joint statement of the African Group, represented by Côte D’Ivoire, as well as the Philippines, Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba, and Palestine, among others.

During the submissions to the UN, the African group, representing all 54 African countries, reiterated that the scope of this legally binding instrument must be informed by the mandate set out in resolution 26/9, limited to transnational corporations and other business entities of transnational character. 

Honourable Sydney Mushanga, Member of Parliament in the National Assembly of Zambia, Member of the Global Inter-Parliamentarian Network in support of the Binding Treaty and Chairperson of the International Catholic Legislators Network in the Zambian Parliament, who is currently in Geneva at the UN participating in the negotiations, stated, “I am in full support of the stance and position taken by the African states at this UN negotiations. I commend the governments of the African continent for standing with the people through the construction of UN binding regulations to make Transnational Corporations accountable when found in conflict with the law in the countries they were operating in.”

Nonhle Forslund from the “Right to Say No” campaign in South Africa and member of the Global Campaign said, “As the delegation from the Philippines remarked yesterday, climate change is the greatest existential threat to humanity. The major corporations responsible for carbon emissions have been aware of their harmful activities for a long time but willfully obfuscated climate science to prevent the world’s transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy. We cannot wait to find ways to make them liable for their human rights violations”

According to Rasha Abu Dayyeh, Friends of the Earth Palestine, member of the Global Campaign,“We need a Binding Treaty re-establishing the primacy of human rights over investment and trade agreements. We need a Binding Treaty including clear and direct obligations for TNCs to respect human rights, recalling that a clear distinction must be made between the human rights obligations of States and those of TNCs”.

Iván González, political coordinator of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas, a member organisation of the Global Campaign, declared, “We are here to continue advancing in the negotiations on the basis of the previously agreed drafttext. The Presidency’s proposal to include an informal text in the negotiations sends a contradictory message, does not recognise the work done in previous years, hinders the process and sends a signal that may discourage states from participating”.

The 8th session of the  open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights is taking place from October 24 to 28 in the Palais des Nations in Geneva.



October 25th, 2022, Geneva


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