Employers Undermining UN Treaty Discussion on Multinational Companies

The ITUC has criticised business representatives in a UN Conference in Geneva this week for trying to block progress towards a UN treaty which would bring the international operations of multinational companies under the rule of law.

The meeting, organised by the UN’s human rights office is working on the elements of the proposed “international instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises”.

Representatives from the International Chamber of Commerce and the International Organisation of Employers are effectively rejecting the very idea of a legally binding instrument.

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said, “A UN treaty, with international legal force, will be a big step forward in ensuring Governments hold multinational companies accountable under the rule of law. It would build on some national examples such as the Netherlands Compact and France’s Vigilance Law and mandate due diligence to mitigate the global scandal of abuse and exploitation of workers. We call on all the parties involved in the UN negotiations to come up with a strong treaty that will finally deliver rights and justice.

The multi-billion dollar voluntary ‘corporate social responsibility’ industry has delivered nothing for millions upon millions of workers in global supply chains who experience unsafe and insecure work with poverty wages. The global supply chain model is broken and while multinational companies benefit from all sorts of legal protections, too many of them refuse to accept that they themselves have legal responsibilities, especially to those whose work generates the profits they make.”
To read the statement from the ITUC and the International Transport Workers’ Federation to the UN meeting