This statement originates from the Asia Pacific Regional Consultation on the Asia Pacific Regional Consultation on the Legally Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights, May 1-3, 2015 Chiang Mai, Thailand, co-convened by the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law & Development (APWLD)
WE, the undersigned members of Asia Pacific civil society, representing different constituencies, movements and organisations, recognise, experience, and resist the human rights violations committed by transnational corporations (TNCs) and other business entities.
We strongly protest the impact of direct and indirect violations by TNCs and other business entities, which destroy lives, cultures, livelihoods, the environment, and profoundly affect women, children, peasants, workers, and indigenous peoples.
We welcome UN Human Rights Council Resolution 26/9, which mandates an intergovernmental 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.
We collectively unite to demand corporate accountability for human rights violations and to redress the grave imbalance between corporate power and the power of people.
We strongly demand that our governments protect, respect and fulfill human rights and commit to enact effective laws for corporate accountability. We encourage all governments to actively participate in the development of a legally binding treaty on business and human rights in the UN Human Rights Council.
As peoples and CSOs, we demand an end to the human rights violations perpetrated with impunity by TNCs and other business entities, often with the complicity or inaction of States. We make the following demands for a legally binding treaty:
- The adoption of an expansive definition of transnational corporations which encompasses parent companies, subsidiaries and contractors and ensures comprehensive supply chain accountability.
- No corporate participation in the process of elaborating and adopting the treaty. The private sector has actively resisted legal accountability for the impact of its actions and this treaty must be formulated with the priorities and interests of affected individuals, communities, peoples, and women and men at its heart;
- The inclusion of a provision that explicitly prohibits corporate capture of political processes, including collusion and complicity between governments and corporate actors. At a minimum, this should take the form of a requirement that there is no conflict of interest in government approval of corporate sector projects;
- The inclusion of a provision requiring transparency and financial disclosure from transnational corporations that should be made available to the public consistent with the public right to access information regarding private operations that have public impact, including for projects financed by international financial institutions;
- An end to impunity for the human rights violations caused by transnational corporations, including but not limited to providing for criminal liability for corporations, their employees, and governments and public officials complicit in the unlawful activity of transnational corporations;
- Accountability for the direct, indirect, short-term and long-term impacts of corporate activity, including remote, “down-stream”, or cumulative negative impacts;
- Affirmation of the primacy of governments’ human rights obligations under the UN Charter and international treaties and customary laws over obligations in trade and investment agreements.
- A rejection of coercive enforcement mechanisms under trade and investment agreements which are incompatible with the human rights obligations of governments, including Investor-State Dispute Settlement.
- Provisions should be progressive and ensure no regression from existing international human rights standards, including core ILO Conventions and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which recognises the entitlement of women to substantive equality with men;
- The inclusion of provisions recognizing the right of indigenous peoples to free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) as a corollary of their internationally-recognised right to self-determination; for non-indigenous peoples, consent must be secured through a direct and participatory process of consultation that respects the right to participation.
- An explicit prohibition of government or corporate retaliation against human rights defenders, in line with the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, including through the suppression of protests, surveillance, and other forms of intimidation and harm, noting the specific vulnerabilities of women human rights defenders, which requires sensitivity to the particular pressures and challenges that they face including sexual harassment and intimidation and criminalisation.”
- An explicit prohibition of the use of State security, military or paramilitary forces to secure corporate projects.
- The establishment of an international tribunal or mechanismto receive, investigate, and adjudicate complaints of human rights violations committed by TNCs. The decisions of this mechanism should be based on the obligations of governments and businesses in relation to international human rights standards and gender equality and should be legally binding.
Agreed on by the undersigned members of Asia Pacific civil society.
- SENTRO ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa, Philippines
- Tebtebba – Indigenous Peoples’ International Center for Policy Research and Education, Philippines
- International Rivers, International
- Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, Philippines
- AshaParivar, India
- National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), India
- Socialist Party of India
- National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO), Sri Lanka
- Citizen News Service (CNS), India
- IBON International, International
- Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Thailand
- Pesticide Action Network- Asia and the Pacific (PANAP), Malaysia
- Community Resource Centre (CRC), Thailand
- The Philippinne Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Philippines
- AlyansaTigil Mina (ATM), Philippines
- Indonesia for Global Justice, Indonesia
- Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC), Cambodia
- POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), India
- Tavoyan Women’s Union, Cambodia
- Solidaritus Perempuan (SP), Indonesia
- Tanggol Bayi (Defend Women), Philippines
- Tanggol Kalikasan, Philippines
- Center for Human Rights and Development, Mongolia
- Shwe Gas Movement (SGM), Burma
- Asia Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
- Leitana Neihan Women’s Development Agency (LNWDA), Papua New Guinea
- Fumi Suzuki, Space Allies/Allies Law Office, Japan
- S.K.Priya, M/s Vasudevan & Priya, India
- Rolando R. Recto, Tanggol Kalikasan, Inc., Philippines
- Dwi Astuti, Bina Desa/InDHRRA, Indonesia
- Indonesia for Global Justice, Indonesia
- Azra Talat Sayeed, Roots for Equity, Pakistan
- Emelia Yanti Siahaan, Federation of Indonesian Trade Union – GSBI, Indonesia
- Francesca Feruglio, Nazdeek, India
- Shalini Bhutani, Legal Researcher & Policy Analyst, India
- Julia Mehboob, Development Organization for Social Transformation (DOST), Pakistan
- Prasant Paikray, PPSS, India
- Wanee Bangprapha Thitiprasert, Research and Advocacy for Women Network, Peace and Culture Foundation, Thailand
- Ravadee Prasertcharoensuk, Sustainable Development Foundation, Thailand
- Duke Ivn Amin, JAGO NARI, Bangladesh
- Zanaa Jurmed, Center for Citizen’s Alliance, Mongolia
- Atta Ul Haq, Youth Association for Development, Pakistan
- Ms. Sor.Rattanamanee Polkla, Community Resource Centre, Thailand
- Waliullah Ahmed Laskar, Barak Human Rights Protection Committtee (BHRPC), India
- Geetha Lakmini, National Fisheries Solidarity Movement, Sri Lanka
- Rina Anastacio, Migrante International, Philippines
- Francesca Feruglio, Nazdeek, India
- Vanaja Ramprasad, Green Foundation, I
- Herman Kumara, National Fisheries Solidarity Movement, Sri Lanka
- Kirity Roy, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), India
- Strauss Fernandez, Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao, Philippines
- Mala Liyanage, Sri Lanka