Global treaty on human rights and corporate abuse

Today we have a historic opportunity to protect human rights globally. Governments are in early negotiations to develop a United Nations treaty that has the potential to be a powerful, lifesaving tool for justice. In partnership with our allies, we are organizing to ensure this treaty effectively protects human rights from corporate abuse and holds transnational corporations accountable.

Transnational corporations trample on human rights

All around the world, transnational corporations are violating people’s most essential human rights. By prioritizing profits, transnational corporations make decisions that displace people, make people sick, and even take lives.

Just a few examples:

Shell has destroyed tribal lands in Nigeria with impunity. And Chevron has refused to clean up its toxic mess in the Ecuadorean Amazon, poisoning more than 30,000 people.

Nestlé has drained local water resources for bottling operations, undermining local, democratic control of our most essential resource.

British American Tobacco, now the world’s largest tobacco corporation, bribed public officials in countries across Africa to undermine public health laws designed to save lives.

But these and other transnational corporations are able to escape responsibility for harmful products, policies, and practices. That’s because they operate across borders.

As a result, people whose rights are violated by transnational corporations find it difficult, if not impossible, to obtain justice.

A binding treaty is essential 

For years, people have been working toward a legally binding treaty protecting human rights from corporate abuse. And they have met fierce resistance by corporations and governments under corporations’ sway.

The result is that today, instead of an international treaty advanced by the U.N., we have non-binding guiding principles and corporate-driven voluntary initiatives. Some of the most abusive corporations in the world — including Shell, Philip Morris International, and Monsanto — are part of these programs. Clearly, these principles are not enough.

The rights of more than 7 billion people are at stake. The world needs a treaty that effectively holds corporations accountable and prevents the flagrant abuses of human rights.

The only way we will have such a treaty is if it has gold-standard corporate accountability measures. And these measures must apply to all international and national laws regarding human rights abuses by corporations. That is what we are setting out to achieve.

Organizing for a powerful treaty

We are organizing to block corporations from undermining this vital treaty. And we are joining robust global alliances advocating for the strongest possible treaty language. These coalitions are the Global Campaign to Reclaim People’s Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity and the Treaty Alliance.

We must ensure that the powerful precedent of the global tobacco treaty, which has successfully reined in the deadly abuses of Big Tobacco, is applied to this treaty and its implementation at the national level.

Together, we can ensure that transnational corporations do not undermine the process and the final treaty is a strong, enforceable tool of international law to protect human rights for generations to come.

Take action! 

If you are a government delegate involved in the treaty process and you want to be part of this work, please reach out to us at [email protected].


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