Is a Business and Human Rights Treaty Necessary?-Prof David Bilchitz (University of Johannesburg)

by | Dec 22, 2014

In June 2014, the Human Rights Council passed a resolution whereby countries agreed to commence discussions on a legally binding instrument relating to transnational corporations and other business enterprises. In this paper, Prof Bilchitz outlined four arguments for why a treaty is necessary to cure important lacunae in international law in this field. The arguments all are rooted in a common normative understanding of fundamental rights and seek to ensure that they are accorded the importance they deserve in this increasingly globalized world. Whilst each argument on its own has strength, this paper aimed to emphasize the cumulative case that the four arguments create in favour of a treaty. The emphasis throughout is upon why a binding legal instrument is particularly important, as opposed to softer forms of regulation such as the United Nations Guiding Principles. Prof Bilchitz then turned to several objections recently raised by Professor John Ruggie, the former Special Representative of the Secretary General on Business and Human Rights. He attempted to show why none of these objections provides good reason to abandon the idea of a treaty as well as why it would be unfortunate to proceed with Ruggie’s more restrictive proposal for a treaty that only addresses ‘gross’ human rights violations.

This event was co-hosted with the Oxford Martin School Human Rights for Future Generations.

A full version of this paper can be accessed here.



Event podcast:

Photos from the event:


Share this:


Submit a Comment

Related Content

Refugee Week Events June 2015

Refugee Week Events June 2015

In the week leading up to World Refugee Day on June 20, Refugee Week is a UK-wide programme of arts, cultural and ...
RightsUp Podcast #RightNow!-The UK Supreme Court Rules in Brexit

RightsUp Podcast #RightNow!-The UK Supreme Court Rules in Brexit

On 24 January 2017, the UK Supreme Court ruled in the case Miller and Dos Santos vs. Secretary of State for ...
IHRL Students for Justice – 17 July 2014

IHRL Students for Justice – 17 July 2014

17 July is international criminal justice day, marking the day when the Rome Statute of the International Criminal ...