Beyond Corporate Social Responsibility: Strengthening Human Rights Due Diligence through the Legally Binding Instrument on Business and Human Rights
by Daniel Uribe Terán
The discussion on the need for mandatory human rights due diligence (HRDD) requirements has permeated the interests of policy makers, civil society organizations and international organizations. The current trend on the adoption of domestic legislation concerning HRDD standards shows a variety of options and models that might serve as a step forward to the adoption of a strong international framework of corporate accountability and remedy for human rights violations in the context of business activities.
This research paper aims at identifying the elements that characterize human rights due diligence to find a possible common definition for its implementation. It does so through analysing current regional and State practice in the adoption of mandatory HRDD legislation in different sectors. Finally, it will discuss the principles that characterize the approach taken by the United Nations Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group in charge of adopting a Legally Binding Instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises and how it could serve as an important cornerstone for modern rule making on the issue of business and human rights.
The Post COVID-19 Recovery: A Stringent Test for the Business and Human Rights Discourse
By H.E. Ambassador Luis Benigno Gallegos Chiriboga
Although the global economic outlook seems to be improving for the rest of 2021 and 2022, such benefits seem to only affect developed economies, while furthering the gap with emerging markets and developing economies. This shows that ‘recovery for all’ will remain gloomy for several years, as access to the COVID-19 vaccine continues to showcase the global inequalities between the rich and the poor. In this scenario, States require to make full use of their regulatory and policy space to protect and promote the human rights of all people and persons in their jurisdictions, including the right to health, while safeguarding the necessary fiscal space towards guaranteeing development expenditures to build back fairer and better. It is time for reducing inequalities rather than increasing the gap between developed and developing nations.
South Centre Statement to the 7th Session of the Open Ended Intergovernmental Working Group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights
The South Centre, as the intergovernmental organization of developing countries, has keenly followed the evolution of the process towards the adoption of a Legally Binding Instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises since its inception and over the various sessions of this Working Group.
We welcome the strengthening of the text of the draft LBI with contributions of State delegations and civil society organisations, particularly from the Global South. The third revised draft of the LBI being discussed this week reflects many of the comments and textual suggestions made in the previous sessions of the Working Group and streamlines the provisions for their effective implementation. The process now moves into a very important phase with State-led direct substantive intergovernmental negotiations and raises hopes for the adoption of the LBI in the near future.
Carving Out a Role for Human Rights in International Investment Law
by Barnali Choudhury
The public health burdens that have been imposed on governments by Covid-19 serve as an important reminder of the importance for states to be able to regulate public health as well as other human rights issues. Commentators are already describing the myriad of investment arbitration claims that states may expect to face for their acts in handling the Covid-19 crisis. By carving out a role for human rights in international investment law, states can ensure that protection of human dignity, not property interests, will continue to be their ultimate objective.
Exploring synergies in multilateralism and human rights for a just, fair & equitable recovery from COVID-19
18 October 2021
Facilitated by the South Centre, this webinar is an opportunity for participants to exchange views and discuss how the Legally Binding Instrument on Transitional Corporations and Other Business Enterprises can support States’ efforts in other areas of the multilateral system towards enabling a just, fair, and equitable recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Frontier Technologies and IP – WIPO 4th Conversation
South Centre Statement, 23 September 2021
The South Centre is an intergovernmental think tank of 54 developing countries working across various policy areas, including health, intellectual property, and the impacts of the 4th Industrial Revolution. The following remarks focus on the necessary attention that should be laid out to the specific status of developing countries.
From the outset, it should be recalled that the technological divide between industrialized countries and most of the global south drastically limits the conditions to accrue benefits from data-intensive economies. This should not be understated in policy discussions such as the present one.
Strong Intellectual Property Protection, Weak Competition Rules – or the Other Way Around to Accelerate Technology Transfer to the Global South? Ten Considerations for a “Prodevelopment” IP-Related Competition Law
By Klaus D. Beiter
Competition law provisions relating to intellectual property (IP) rights should play an enhanced role in facilitating the domestic and international transfer and dissemination of technology. IP-related competition rules in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) create an obligation for Member States to apply competition law in the IP context. TRIPS competition rules should be read in a “prodevelopment” fashion – IP rights need to be read reductively, IP-related competition law expansively. Ten considerations for a “prodevelopment” IP-related competition law are formulated.
Statement during the Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to development
The South Centre, as an intergovernmental organization composed by developing countries, welcomes the Report prepared by the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Development considering Climate Action at the National Level. Read our statement below.
Issues in Financing Education as a Human Right: Central principles for public policy responses
by Kishore Singh
The realization of the right to education requires adequate financing of education. Public policy responses to the need and importance of financing education remain inadequate. And now there is a trend towards decreasing public investment in education. Not only should States shoulder the primary responsibility for education under human rights law, but non-State actors should also invest in education because of corporate social responsibility. Besides, the need and importance of preserving education as a public good and public interest in education should be kept in the forefront as regards multi-stakeholders and provision of education through public-private partnerships. The role devolves upon the parliamentarians in shaping regional and global architecture. In the conclusion, the author proposes ten central principles for a Global Alliance to do the task of world-wide advocacy in support of the architecture for financing education.
Virtual Consultation in support of the UN Working Group’s 2021 Report to the UN General Assembly on Human Rights-Compatible International Investment Agreements
South Centre, 23 June 2021
Foreign direct investment (FDI) should support States’ efforts to “bring the SDGs and goals of the Paris Agreement to life for all people, everywhere.” However, achievement of these objectives is slowed down in the current situation where investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms are included in international investment agreements (IIAs). These mechanisms have increased the exposure of States to claims from foreign investors against regulatory measures taken to protect and guarantee a clean and safe environment, public health, human rights, social inclusion, and poverty reduction.
In the current scenario marked by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, FDI can be a valuable source of financing a better and fairer recovery, including investment needed to achieve the full realisation of all human rights. But to achieve this potential, there is a need to reshape the international investment regime, including through the reform of its substantive rules and standards, as well as of the ISDS mechanisms embedded in existing IIAs.
The South Centre and the United Nations Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises convened a virtual consultation to identify and assess the different challenges developing countries face while negotiating or reforming IIAs in line with their international human rights obligations. The virtual consultation aimed at highlighting and discussing some of the most common concerns and challenges those developing countries face in the promotion of responsible investment practices, including an exploratory discussion about balancing the rights and obligations of investors in IIAs and safeguarding the sovereign right of States to regulate in the public interest for building back better and fairer in face of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also discussed possible reforms of the ISDS mechanism.
This Semester Report summarizes the activities undertaken by the South Centre during the period 1st January to 30 June 2021. It is intended to provide information, organized by themes, about recent developments in the areas covered by the Centre’s Work Program, meetings organized or co-organized by the Centre to examine particular issues or provide analytical support for negotiations taking place in various international fora, and conferences and other meetings where the Centre has participated. It also informs about publications of the outcomes of internal policy-oriented research and external contributions made as a result of cooperation with the Centre.
The Implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas: what is next?
By Luis Fernando Rosales Lozada
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP) was adopted in December 2018. However, its application seems challenging. The South Centre organized a virtual meeting to discuss the implementation of the UNDROP on 4th June 2021, aiming to promote a debate about future actions to move forward the implementation of the UNDROP. The meeting provided an opportunity to listen to the views of government representatives, peasants’ associations, civil society organizations and academia. During the meeting, different questions were discussed such as how the current health and social crisis, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, has impacted the situation of peasants, the role of the UNDROP in promoting and protecting peasants’ rights, the latest developments in the realization of the rights of peasants under the UNDROP and what steps are needed to promote its implementation.