The United Nations has confirmed that it was working on a treaty on multinational corporations’ respect for human rights despite some naysaying from developed countries. The works on a binding international treaty on human rights violations by multinational corporations started in mid-2014 following pressure from South Africa and Ecuador. Since then, the UN’s Human Rights Council used its intergovernmental working group (OEIGWG) to meet regularly. This year on 27 October, the group proposed the first draft of the treaty, which was hailed as a success for civil society.
“Despite strong objections from a number of countries, especially the EU, the negotiating session […] confirmed that an international treaty on this subject will be written. France and the EU must be fully on board and we will keep the pressure on,” a number of French civil society organizations said in a press release. France is leading these efforts and in March last year adopted a law on the responsibility of multinational corporations. The law is called “Rana Plaza” after the 2013 Savar building collapse that occurred in September 2013 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where a five-story commercial building Rana Plaza collapsed and left almost 1,200 dead.
The French law requires companies of more than 5,000 workers operating in France and of more than 10,000 abroad to have a prevention plan in place against human rights abuses in their supply chain. If they do not meet these obligations, they can be fined up to €10 million. “For a few pennies on a T-shirt, we are ready to destroy a river, take lives, enslave children. Against all this, we need to pioneer legislation,” commented Dominique Potier, the French MP authoring the law.