Working together to end violations of human rights of present and future generations by transnational corporations


We, the signatories of this statement, Councillors and Ambassadors of the World Future Council, call on all governments to step up action in order to fill the existing gaps in international law to prevent human rights violations perpetrated by transnational corporations and other business enterprises, and to hold them accountable.

The role of transnational corporations (TNCs) has exponentially expanded over the last few decades. Value chains (i.e. intra-firm or inter-firm, regional or global, and commonly referred to as “global value chains, or GVCs) are shaped by TNCs that account for around 80 per cent of global trade. Serious and wide scale abuses committed by TNCs remain unpunished to this day, as well as flagrant human rights violations caused by operations of TNC and other business enterprises. Despite the seriousness of the human rights violations that transnational corporations commit, the international community has not been able to create specific legally binding norms for TNCs within the framework of international human rights law. While TNCs are granted rights through hard law instruments, such as bilateral investment treaties and investment rules in free trade agreements, and have access to a system of investor-state dispute settlements, there are no hard law instruments that address the obligations of corporations to respect human rights.

In consequence, concerns about elusive progress in achieving access to remedy for victims of corporate-related human rights abuse must be urgently addressed. Our economies and politics need to put people and the planet – not corporations – first. To this end, it is vital to reinforce the primacy of human rights and rights of future generations. This includes the right of peoples to live in dignity, and to have access to public services and the commons, as well as the right of everyone to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. States and Transnational Corporations have the obligation to apply these rights in all areas of political, economic, social, environmental and cultural activities. After a debate that has lasted more than forty years, the UN Human Rights Council has decided to start the negotiation of a legally-binding instrument on TNCs and human rights, a process that has received strong support by civil society, along with more than 1.200 organizations organized under a coalition called the Treaty Alliance. Therefore, establishing legally binding norms that ensure the respect of human rights by transnational corporations and other business enterprises, wherever they operate, is a necessary and urgent step.


As Councillors and Ambassadors of the World Future Council,

  • We call special attention to the fact that human rights violations by transnational corporations and other business enterprises – often in complicity with the local governments – not only deprive people of their human rights today but also deprive future generations of their rights;
  • We call on governments to make it a priority to guarantee protection against human rights abuse by transnational corporations and other business enterprises, and to ensure compliance, liability and redress;
  • We remind transnational corporations and other business enterprises of their responsibility to respect human rights of present and future generations;
  • We welcome the report of the first session of the open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights during the 31st Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council;
  • We encourage all UN Member States to comply with the UN Human Rights Council mandate of resolution A/HRC/RES/26/9 adopted in June 26th 2014, and to constructively participate in the negotiation of an International Legally Binding Instrument on Transnational Corporations and Human Rights, in the framework of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group of UN Human Rights Council established for this purpose, as one of the necessary steps to protect human rights;
  • While committing our support and contribution, we encourage all the other relevant stakeholders to provide the necessary independent expertise and expert advice to the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group in order to fulfil its mandate and above all to achieve the legitimate and longstanding aspiration of the international community to fill this serious gap in international law.


 List of signatories

  • h.c. Maude Barlow, Chairperson, The Council of Canadians; Former Senior Advisor to the UN on water issues
  • Dipal Chandra Barua, Chairperson, Bright Green Energy Foundation
  • Ana María Cetto, Research Professor of the Institute of Physics and lecturer at the Faculty of Sciences, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
  • Shuaib Chalklen, Founder and chairperson of the African Disability Forum and former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Disability, South Africa
  • Tony Colman, Director of Africapractice, Research Fellow of University of Cape Town, Earth Institute at Columbia University, and University of East Anglia
  • Thais Corral, Founder, Sinal do Vale; Co-Founder, Women’s Environment and Development Organization
  • Barbara Doll, Deputy Chair of the WFC Supervisory Board, Gynaecologist
  • Scilla Elworthy, Founder, Oxford Research Group
  • Sándor Fülöp, Former Parliamentary Commissioner for Future Generations in Hungary
  • Rafia Ghubash, President, Arab Network for Women, Science and Technology; former President, Arab Gulf University
  • David Krieger, Co-Founder and President, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
  • Dr. Alexander Likhotal, President, Green Cross International
  • Rama Mani, Senior Research Associate, Centre for International Studies, University of Oxford; Director, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect: Southern Cultural Perspectives; Co-Founder, Rising Women Rising World
  • Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Manfred Max-Neef, Professor of Ecological Economics, Universidad Austral de Chile, Pioneer of “Barefoot Economics” and “Human Scale Development”
  • Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, President, Centre of Strategies and Security in the Sahel Sahara; former senior UN Official and Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Somalia
  • Cyril Ritchie, President of CoNGO
  • Barbara Seiller, Member of the WFC Supervisory Board, Entrepreneur and Benefactress
  • Sulak Sivaraksa, Buddhist activist, writer and leading founder of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB)
  • Pavan Sukhdev, Author – Corporation 2020 & CEO – GIST Advisory
  • Taylor Thomson, WFC Ambassador
  • Alyn Ware, Founder, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND)
  • Jakob von Uexkull, Founder and Chair of the Management Board, World Future Council

List of additional signatories (not Members of the World Future Council):

  • Elena Alvarez-Buylla, Professor at Institute of Ecology and Research Coordinator at Center for Complex Studies, UNAM – Unión de Científicos Comprometidos con la Sociedad,, Mexico