Crude oil in an open toxic oil waste pit abandoned by Chevron in the Ecuadorean Amazon Rainforest near Lago Agrio. Photo by Caroline Bennett/Rainforest Action Network via Flickr.
The negotiation process towards a meaningful treaty on business and human rights has been underway since 2014 at the UN Human Rights Council. The process has been a slow one but the development and release of the draft treaty in July this year is a strong indication that there is a clear change coming to the world of business and human rights.
The need for a binding treaty which holds companies to account in their operations, particularly for operations in developing countries, has long been pushed by civil society organisations as the existing soft instruments (such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights) do not have the required legal weight or binding force. It is largely acknowledged that Corporate self-regulation has failed. The local laws and deficient enforcement mechanisms in some countries mean that people affected by corporate human rights abuses have no access to effective grievance mechanisms. Companies and communities shown in our Dirty Profits report over time have shown the difficulties communities and individuals face in accessing compensation from corporate transnational companies such as Exxon, Chevron, Glencore, Barrick Gold and many others.