Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Respect to Human Rights
Geneva, Switzerland
18 October 2018
General Discussion under item 4

Joms Salvador, GABRIELA, Philippines

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I speak on behalf of APWLD and AWID.

On Article 1

To restore the primacy of human rights, we suggest the preamble refers to Article 13 of the UN Charter.  Any incompatible law or obligations with the Instrument must be severed according to the doctrine of severability.

The Instrument should embrace the principle of international solidarity to provide coherence and conceptual operational framework for the implementation of this Instrument based on the primacy of human rights.

We recommend the Instrument be explicit on direct obligations of TNCs.  This will include TNCs’ obligation not to undermine states’ human rights obligation through their business activities.

We recommend the Preamble to make specific reference to the multiple, intersecting and historically accumulated forms of discrimination women experience.  The next Draft should recognise the right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) ​as​ ​a​ ​corollary​ ​of​ the ​internationally-recognised​ ​right to​ ​self-determination​ ​and​ the right to development.

On Article 15

We are concerned over the convergence of conflicts over resources, use of militarism to facilitate corporate profits and systematic oppressions on democratic civil resistance.  This directly links to access to justice of victims, and the protection of women, environmental and human rights defenders in the context of resisting corporate abuse and exercising their freedom of expression and right to democratic participation.  Ex-ante, periodic and ex-post human rights, gender and environmental impact assessment particularly of existing and future trade and investment agreements can serve as a fundamental preventive measure. We recommend Article 15 paragraphs 4 and 5 to be moved under Article 9 and clearly be linked to Article 2.

Economic integration policies of regional integration organisations conflict with States’ human rights obligations and undermine policy coherence.   We recommend Paragraphs 10 and 11 be removed from the Zero Draft.

Article 14

We recommend the next Draft to re-insert and elaborate the possibility of the International​ ​Court​ ​on​ ​Transnational Corporations​ ​and​ ​Human​ ​Rights as was raised in the Draft Elements. We are at a critical juncture where Member States’ political will and power are called to close the accountability gap and reverse power inequalities.

Thank you.

Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Respect to Human Rights
Geneva, Switzerland
16 October 2018
General Discussion under item 4

Joms Salvador, GABRIELA, Philippines

Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

I speak today on behalf of Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development and the Feminists for a Binding Treaty.  Our collective voice represents over 250 feminist organisations in Asia Pacific and globally.

The core importance of the Legally Binding Instruments lies with the very intention to reduce inequalities of power, wealth and resources between countries, between rich and poor and between men and women based on the fundamental principles of human rights.  These structural inequalities are facilitated and reinforced by transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

Corporate abuses women experience happens because the systems allows it to happen: the system that is fundamentally patriarchal and facilitates corporate profits through neoliberal globalisation, militarism and fundamentalisms.  Women witness corporations having power to unduly influence policy decisions from local to global levels that affects our economy, governance and our lives.

We welcome the Zero Draft that confirms the obligation of states to promote, protect and fulfill all human right of all persons.  This obligation shall not only include regulating transnational business activities but also ensuring policy coherence to subsequently align all laws and policies with international human rights norms and standards.  In this regard, we recommend Article 2 to explicitly state the primacy of human rights over any other type of law or obligations, including trade and investment agreements.

We welcome Article 8 as it strongly reinforces Article 2 in putting rights of the victims at the center of the Zero Draft.  However, there are rooms for improvement and we recommend Article 8 in the next Draft to:

  • Recognise historical and structural barriers to women’s access justice and ensure gender-responsive remedies.
  • Recognise and address multiple and intersecting barriers to women’s access to justice in the context of conflicts, particularly conflicts over resources where transnational companies often plays significant role and extract profits.
  • Recognise the central role of women human rights defenders in resisting corporate abuse and impunity, during which course they face threats, attacks and even killings; and ensure safety and protection of women human rights defenders.

The Legally Binding Instrument provides a historical opportunity for the member states to be bold and courageous not to let powerful transnational corporations to undermine nation states’ sovereignty and inherent obligation to respect, protect and fulfill human rights of all persons.  It also offers a global level opportunity to advance democratic governance that is accountable to the peoples and international solidarity. We remain strongly committed to support this process and ensure the Instrument incorporates perspectives and demands of feminist, women’s movements.

Thank you.