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Day 2 Summary: UN Treaty negotiations: clear divisions persist on victim’s rights and due diligence obligations

"Day 2 of UN Treaty negotiations: clear divisions persist on victim’s rights and due diligence obligations", 28 October 2020.

...Participation was lower than the previous day, but those who did join were active in spite of technical difficulties.

Disagreements arose early on when delegates from the Philippines, Egypt, Iran, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Armenia, Cuba and Russia asked for a limitation of the scope according to resolution 26/9, while most civil society and several other states (Palestine, Mexico, Panama, Ecuador, Brazil and the EU) expressed support for the current wording of article 3.1 on scope, which allows for, but is not limited to, transnational corporations and other business enterprises...

Provisions establishing the scope of the human rights (article 3.3) were subject to some controversy. References to core human rights international instruments – as well as the wording, “to which a state is a party” – drew confusion, as it remains unclear whether this refers to a) a contracting state, b) the state where the abuse occurred or c) the state where the business enterprise is domiciled. One suggestion made was to follow the approach of principle 12 of the UN Guiding Principles...

Although provisions related to the rights of victims (article 4) were praised by Ecuador as “one of the most important of the instrument,” and “a creative solution for a complex technical challenge,” it did not escape criticism...States quarreled over article 4.2, which guarantees victims, among other things, the right to access fair, adequate, effective justice, with some states suggesting minor amendments, while others requested it be scrapped altogether...

Talks continued with delegates sorting out their differences on the due diligence obligations imposed by states on companies...France was the only EU Member State to participate in this session. After noting the adoption of the French law on duty of vigilance, the delegation worryingly implied that there is a need for narrowing the company scope of the treaty, as it regretted the lack of thresholds after which obligations should apply...

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