We live in a world where corporations have unprecedented powers. Every day, transnational corporations impact ordinary people - from exploiting workers and destroying the environment, to avoiding taxes and devastating communities through extraction. They do this with almost complete impunity because they have seized unprecedented influence over governments and decision makers.
The United Nations (UN) has put forward an historic proposal that could hold transnational corporations and other business enterprises to account for corporate abuses under international human rights law. The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is calling on governments to work on developing a set of legally-binding rules for these transnational corporations in relation to human rights known as "the UN treaty". This treaty could protect people from human rights abuses by corporations and bring corporate actors to justice.
However, the European Union and its member states are resistant to the process. The European Union does not have a 'seat' in the Human Rights Council, unlike trade negotiations for example, but does act as a block – with the European permanent mission in Geneva and European Council inputting into the process. Since the process began they have attempted to derail discussions, and are very reluctant to become engaged.
This must change. A broad coalition of organisations, including Friends of the Earth Europe, are calling on the European Union to participate in the UN Treaty discussions in good faith – to ensure access to justice for victims of corporate abuse, to ensure rights for people, and rules for business.