June 21, 2019

Ecuador Committed to the Defense of Human Rights















By H.E. Fernando Bucheli, Consul General of the Republic of Ecuador.

The Human Rights Council of the United Nations at its 26th session in July 2014 in Geneve, decided to establish an open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, whose mandate shall be to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

Ecuador leads the working group since its first session and has been working to propose a document with the elements for the draft legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights. The document was constructed in cooperation with different actors in more than 200 bilateral and multilateral intersessional meetings in Geneva and different countries. The States, workers associations, companies, academics and experts, as well as more than 1,000 non-governmental organizations have participated in several debates. So far three meetings of the working group have been held, while the fourth is scheduled for next October 2018.

The purpose of the draft document is to give elements to create an international legally binding framework that aims to guarantee the respect, promotion and protection of human rights against violations or abuses resulting from the activities of transnational corporations (TNCs) and other business enterprises (OBEs), in order to ensure civil, administrative and criminal liability regarding human rights violations or abuses.

The future Convention should include mechanisms to guarantee the access to justice and effective remedy for such human rights violations or abuses committed by TNCs and OBEs, including remediation and guarantees of non-repetition, as well as the strengthening of international cooperation between all relevant actors and obligations to prevent such adverse human rights impacts.

For Ecuador, respect for human rights is a State policy and is one of the priorities of its foreign policy. In this regard, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador, H.E. María Fernanda Espinosa, visited The Hague on November 2017 and, among other activities, maintain talking’s with the Secretary General of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, Mr. Hugo Siblesz, to explain the results of the meetings carried out working groups and to discuss the proposal of the Court related to designation of arbiter’s and mediators in disputes of business related to human rights.

On 14 March 2018, the Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the UN in Geneva-Switzerland, Ambassador Luis Gallegos, explained the advances on this project to the Commission of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Dutch Parliament.He also held a meeting in the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, in order to explain details of the process of construction of the legally binding instrument.

Ecuador will intensify the work in order to involve more countries, companies, workers and societies in this important matter. The international community should strengthen the support to the work that the intergovernmental working group is carrying out.

It is important to remark that, by now, there is no an international mechanism that protects the human rights of workers who face abuses from some companies. The moment is now.



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