By Robin Gomes
The Holy See has reiterated its call for an appropriate regulation of the activities of transnational corporations that is guided by an ethical approach so that a decent standard of living is realized through respect of human dignity, rather than a mere economic interest. “In the context of business activities, this implies that an integral respect for communities and their rights cannot be separated from care for the environment,” said Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday.
While trade and investment agreements do not prohibit measures and policies at protecting human rights per se, they may limit the options of a state to fulfil its human rights obligation, he noted while addressing a meeting on transnational corporations and human rights during the current 38th Session of the Human Rights Council.
Transnational corporations - governments – human rights – environement
Given the transnational nature of both economic freedoms and human rights, the Holy See’s diplomat called for the promotion of a robust transnational legislation to support governments in their duty to protect against third-party human rights abuses.
The corporate responsibility to respect human rights is the basic expectation that society has of business, he said. Recent history, he continued, has shown that systemic violations of human rights by some corporations can lead to forced migration caused by violence, land grabbing, exploitation of resources and monopolization of seeds. All these, he said, can lead to starvation and to the depletion of resources necessary to fulfil the minimum requirements of life.
Since care for the environment is essential to make our societies live and flourish, Archbishop Jurkovic said, the negotiations of an international legal instrument on business and human rights must take into consideration the protection of the environment from unsustainable exploitation.