Oral Statement of the ODHE at the 3rd Session of OEIGWG Group on Transnational Corporations for a #BindingTreaty at the UN

Thank you Mr. Chairperson.

I speak on behalf of the Observatory of Business and Human Rights of Middle East and North Africa and in the framework of the Global Campaign to Reclaim People’s Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity. We consider that extraterritorial jurisdiction is paramount and essential for this Treaty to be effective, especially in the cases of armed conflict and occupation.

People under occupation have no possibility of access to justice or remedy in their own country nor in the courts of the occupying power.

A blatant example is Geshuri, an Israeli chemical company that has been condemned in Israel to stop its activity because of the pollution produced and the hazardous and toxic effect of its activity.

However, Geshuri has moved into a settlement in the West Bank. Its factory in Tulkarem is in fact only operating when the winds blow towards the East, and thus towards Palestinians in the West Bank. They close the factory when the wind blows towards Israel, therefore only polluting Occupied Territories in Palestine, and not Israel. How can the people of Tulkarem seek justice? Where can they seek protection for their Human Rights such as the most basic right to life, to a healthy environment or to safety in labour?

Geshuri, as also Spanish and European companies, operates not only in illegal settlements but in other countries through subsidiaries and through the export of its products.

Extraterritorial jurisdiction is the opportunity to hold them accountable for the Human Rights they violate. It is crucial that the full definition given in chapter 7 on ‘Jurisdiction’ that third states have responsibility to ensure compliance and legal liability of TNCs that are [quote] ‘registered or domiciled, or are headquartered or have substantial activities in the State concerned’ [quote ends], is streamlined throughout the entire treaty.

Also, we would like to manifest to the State representatives here pushing for a Binding Treaty that civil society and the people in Europe do not support the current EU’s position. We hope that in the next sessions in 2018 the states in the Global North will stop acting like the mouthpiece of TNCs and start speaking on behalf of the principles that they claim to defend. Civil society organisations will keep on fighting for a global framework that puts an end to corporate impunity and we hope so do all the states.

Foto: Alex del Rey