Treaty-Making in Business & Human Rights: Models for a Binding Instrument

In 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council created an open-ended intergovernmental working group (IGWG) with a mandate ‘to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises’. This movement reignited debates not only on whether a binding instrument was desirable or not, but also on what shape should a ‘BHR Treaty’ take. In light of advances on the discussions and the introduction of a Second Revised Draft, a deeper discussion on whether the model adopted by the current text is the most adequate, politically feasible, and legally ambitious is paramount. Balancing these and other concerns, Nadia Bernaz and Claire Methven O’Brien will present their views on what models a BHR Treaty could and should take in the first part of this webinar. Both speakers will then engage with each other’s presentation and with questions raised by attendees in the subsequent Q&A.

Nadia Bernaz (@NadiaBernaz) is Associate Professor of Law at Wageningen University (the Netherlands), and Visiting Professor at the Catholic University of Lille (France). Nadia holds a PhD in international law from Aix-Marseille University (France). She is the author of Business and Human Rights. History, Law and Policy (Routledge, 2017). Nadia has published numerous academic articles in law and business journals, and has been teaching business and human rights since 2010. She founded and runs Rights as Usual, a blog dedicated to business and human rights.

Claire Methven O’Brien (@claire_ob1) is a Senior Researcher at the Danish Institute for Human Rights; and Lecturer and Baxter Fellow at the University of Dundee School of Law, where she established and directs the LLM Business and Human Rights. She leads the DANIDA-funded research programme, Realising the SDGs: The Role of Responsible Business. She is also a Honorary Lecturer at the University of St. Andrews School of Management. Her recent publications include Business and Human Rights. A Handbook for Legal Practitioners (2019) and Public procurement and human rights: Opportunities, risks and dilemmas for the state as buyer (2019). Building on earlier publications on a business and human rights treaty, in 2020, she published a Draft text for business and human rights framework convention.