11 October 2016
Academics writing on behalf the Institute of Employment Rights have advised the United Nations Human Rights Council that lawmakers should not wait for the consent of business to impose international human rights legislation.
Professor David Whyte and Dr Stefanie Khoury, both from the University of Liverpool, submitted evidence towards the second session of the open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, which will take place later this month.
“There needs to be an explicit rejection of the theoretically and empirically flawed ‘consensus’ approach to ensuring corporate human rights compliance,” they argued, noting the danger of making compromises to human rights legislation to gain businesses’ consent.
“To put it plainly, the regulation of TNCs [transnational corporations] should not require that corporations sign-off on the terms of their own regulation,” they added.
Professor Whyte and Dr Khoury also argued that the UN should take this opportunity “to reserve human rights law for the protection of human beings, rather than legal persons”, such as companies.
“As it stands, there are fundamental contradictions in human rights law that create the possibility for corporations to have the same ‘rights’ as people,” they explained.
Lastly, the authors reminded the Council that trade unions are central to the prevention of human rights violations.
“There is no more significant, positive effect upon the protection of workers’ human rights than the presence of active, democratic and independent representation,” they stated.
Click here to read the full submission