This week, world leaders will meet at the United Nations in Geneva to negotiate a historic international treaty to ensure companies respect human rights and the environment in their global operations – the UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights. Representatives of the European Union will be attending the opening and closing session, but will not participating in discussions on the content of the treaty text. Why this abstention when we are talking about protecting people's rights against damaging corporations, about giving victims of corporate abuse access to justice?
Hambach Forest in Germany's Rhineland is 10,000 years old. But it is under massive threat from German energy giant RWE, which wants to destroy the last remaining part of the forest to mine for coal.
Norway is famous for its rich, untouched nature – and for its fish. Shockingly, the Norwegian government has put both at stake with a controversial decision in 2015 to permit dumping of vast amounts of mine waste in the pristine Førdefjord.
Friends of the Earth Netherlands announced today that they will take Shell to court if it does not act on demands to stop its destruction of the climate.
The Friends of the Earth Netherlands case is the first climate lawsuit demanding a fossil fuel company acts on climate change, rather than seeking compensation. This ground-breaking case, if successful, would significantly limit Shell's investments in oil and gas globally by forcing them to comply with climate targets.
Today, the UN Human Rights Council discussed the report by the Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG)  regarding a binding treaty on business and human rights. Civil society organisations and countries, including the EU, supported the presentation and called for the continuation of the process. This means the 4th session of the IGWG will take place in October, as scheduled.
***Update 18 April: The Milan court hearing scheduled today on the Nigerian Ikebiri community's case against oil giant ENI/NAOC has been postponed as, both parties sought the court's permission to suspend the case to allow them to explore further the possibility of an out-of-court settlement that could end the conflict. We expect that the company will now offer adequate compensation and clean up according to the community's legitimate grievance. The court has agreed to set the next hearing for October 23, 2018.***
Anne van Schaik, Friends of the Earth Europe’s corporate accountability campaigner, attended the recent week of negotiations in Geneva for a UN Treaty on business and human rights, and writes here about the outcomes and the unhelpful role of the European Union.
Monday 23 October will mark the start of the negotiations at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on a binding treaty for businesses in relation to human rights.
This is a historic opportunity to ensure that affected communities, Human and Environmental Rights Defenders and others who are victim of corporate abuse have enhanced access to justice.