The intergovernmental working group was mandated to elaborate an international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights.
CIVICUS together with Terra Mater, an Ecuadorian organization working on defending indigenous peoples’ rights and their territories welcome the process to regulate Transnational Corporations (TNCs) and other business enterprises under international law. It has been exhaustively proven that unrestrained corporate power entails detrimental effects on human rights and the environment, particularly with the complicity of home and host states. To confront these threats upon civil society in particular, is one of the greatest challenges before us.
We believe that in comparison an excellent tool to uphold this civil society predicament is the Aarhus Convention; an instrument that not only safeguards procedural human rights related to the protection of the environment, namely the right to access to information, participation and access to justice, but also it provides remedies for victims when private actors contravene environmental law.
A new binding treaty must include a robust mechanism that obliges businesses enterprises and states alike to provide timely, objective and culturally sensitive information; it shall integrate public participation spaces, embracing free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples; and has to incorporate independent, expeditious and affordable justice for victims of human rights encroachments.
An almost endless list of human rights violations related to environmental degradation must be prevented and redressed. Cases like the criminalization, dissolution and harassment of indigenous leaders and environmental defenders that oppose Chinese extractive projects in Ecuador; or the intentionally cover-up of climate change related information known by oil industry for decades; or the withdrawal of jurisdiction of international courts by some states would be averted when the prospective treaty includes provisions based on the Aarhus Convention.
This is a unique and historical moment where an international treaty must bridge the chasm between two international law regimes: environmental and human rights law; separated by fragmentation and a silos mentality. A moment to reciprocate; a moment to include climate change as a concern for humankind, just like when the Paris Agreement included Human Rights in its preamble, especially when both matters are heightened by unlimited corporate power. Indubitably, a way to handle these intertwined issues of the Anthropocene epoch is by providing information, promoting participation and securing justice for human rights and environmental defenders.