Between 24 - 28 October 2016, Al-Haq has taken part in the second session of the open-ended intergovernmental working group (IGWG) on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights. The IGWG was established through resolution 26/9 at the 26th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) on 26 June 2014. The mandate of the IGWG was set to "…elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.” The HRC also decided that the first two sessions of the open-ended intergovernmental working group “shall be dedicated to conducting constructive deliberations on the content, scope, nature and form of the future international instrument.”
On 24 October 2016, Al-Haq joined African, Asian and Latin American organisations and a representative from the Ecuadorian government on a panel organised by the International Network on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net). The aim of the side-event was to highlight some key proposals, following regional consultation organised by ESCR-Net, that are necessary to include in an international legally binding instrument on regulating the activities of corporations. Al-Haq highlighted conflict-affected areas specifically, mentioning that in the context of occupation, colonialism and post-colonialism, a future legal instrument should include provisions requiring states to adapt their national legislation in order to ensure that corporations are prevented from taking part or benefiting from serious international crimes through requiring enhanced due diligence to that effect. Al-Haq also highlighted that the Treaty must ensure that corporations currently contributing to or directly involved in international crimes withdraw entirely and immediately and be held accountable to its action - particularly when adequate third party documentation has illustrated the illegality of involvement in the affected area.
Al-Haq also delivered an oral statement jointly with Badil and Al-Mezan, emphasizing that any legally binding instrument resulting from this process must ensure that, through national legislation, States are requiring compliance of corporations with international humanitarian law when operating in conflict-affected areas. The statement also highlighted that States must take necessary measures to ensure that where national companies are complicit in their State's unlawful practices and policies, international sanctions and accountability measures are available to ensure that the affected communities have meaningful access to effective remedy and accountability.
Civil society organisations (CSOs) had strong presence throughout this session bringing up important issues that need discussion - including extraterritorial obligations related to transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights. While the participation of States and CSOs from Middle East and North Africa was little in this session, the Palestine mission in Geneva spoke out in a statement highlighting that it is of "… vital importance for the legally binding instrument to include language aimed at preventing and addressing the heightened risk of business involvement in abuses in conflict situations, which includes situations of foreign occupation, colonialism and post colonialism."
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