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Towards a Human Rights Treaty on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises: The First Session of the UN Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group

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Keywords: Corporations and Human Rights; Treaty; International Regulation; Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group; Extraterritorial Jurisdiction

On 10 July 2015 the Open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights adopted the first Report concerning its session held from 6 to 10 July 2015 in Geneva. The Report and the first session of the OEIGWG illustrate the first series of discussions on the proposal, launched one year ago within the UN Human Rights Council, to adopt international binding rules for the business sector in the field of human rights after the failure of prominent predecessors at UN level such as the UN Code of Conduct for Transnational Corporations and the Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights. This paper focuses on some issues that appear crucial in order to reach a sufficient consensus and ensure a positive outcome to the negotiations. This applies in particular to the "ratione personae" and "ratione loci" scope of application of the future instrument: indeed, the existence of conflicting views amongst States on the applicability of these criteria were the main reason for the failure of prior efforts to establish binding international instruments for the private sector in the field of human rights. The success of the codification process will depend on the capacity of negotiations to attain consensus on both these issues.

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