Seminar with Claire Methven O’Brien on Business and Human Rights

The Research Group will have a seminar with Claire Methven O’Brien on Human Rights and Business. The seminar will explore a proposal for an alternative Framework Convention on Business and Human Rights.


About the Seminar

This seminar will seek to explore the potentials of different treaty models, including the framework convention approach, as well as emerging relationships and dynamics in the broader business and human rights regulatory “ecosystem”. Claire Methven O’Brien will start by presenting such an alternative convention. Claire Methven O’Brien is an internationally recognised expert in the field of business and human rights. She is Senior Researcher and Strategic Adviser on Human Rights and Business at the Danish Institute for Human Rights. She is the initiator of the proposal for an alternative Framework Convention on Business and Human Rights and has written extensively on the topic. 
After Claire Methven O’Brien´s presentation on the alternative convention, three commentators will provide their comments. These are Policy Director Kristel Manal Tonstad (OECD National Contact Point for Responsible Business), PhD Candidate Dinie Arief (Norwegian Centre for Human Rights) and Professor Gentian Zyberi (Norwegian Centre for Human Rights). The seminar will end with a general discussion of the topic.

Prospects for a UN Business and Human Rights Treaty 

Since 2014 a United Nations process has sought to develop a new human rights treaty to address the human rights impacts of business activities. An Inter-governmental Working Group on TNCs (IGWG) has subsequently convened for six annual sessions and published a succession of draft treaty texts. Many states have participated in this process, which has also attracted extensive scholarly and stakeholder engagement. Yet global actors including the European Union, the United States China and Russia have either declined to participate or voiced objections to the proposed approach.
A proposal for a framework convention on business and human rights, taking point of departure in the 2008 UN Framework and 2011 Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, has however attracted growing diplomatic interest, and has been discussed at meetings convened by the US and Japan, EU and national actors in European countries. One of the main promoters of the UNGPs, Norway has yet to adopt a position within the treaty discussion. 
Given the approach of the 7th session of the IGWG on TNCs to be held in October 2021, it is timely to reflect on objectives and prospects for a UN business and human rights treaty. The topic is given additional relevance by the prospective adoption of “mandatory human rights due diligence” legislation at EU level, in Norway, the Netherlands and Germany, following in the wake recent French and Dutch laws, and the need for coherence across between such initiatives and a UN business and human rights instrument.


Published May 28, 2021 3:16 PM - Last modified June 2, 2021 11:46 AM