Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Questions (137, 141, 147, 148, 151, 152, 153, 154, 155, 158, 159, 161, 162, 171, 172)

John Lahart

Question:

137. Deputy John Lahart asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to support a UN binding treaty on business and human rights in 2019. [13004/19]

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Thomas Pringle

Question:

141. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps that Ireland will take to engage positively in the process of elaborating on a UN treaty to regulate the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises in 2019; if Ireland will attend the OEIWGW in Geneva in October 2019 and participate formally in the discussions to elaborate a new UN treaty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12903/19]

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Ruth Coppinger

Question:

147. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will engage with consultations organised by the chair-rapporteur of the UN open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights regarding a treaty on business and human rights; if Ireland will be represented at the fifth intergovernmental conference of the working group in Geneva in October 2019; his views on the European Union engaging with this process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13065/19]

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Catherine Murphy

Question:

148. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to a petition to all members of the Houses of the Oireachtas regarding a UN binding treaty on business and human rights in 2019 (details supplied); the actions he plans to take regarding the points raised in the petition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13069/19]

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Clare Daly

Question:

151. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if constructive feedback will be provided on the zero draft of a UN treaty to regulate the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises; if he will participate in upcoming consultations organised by the chair-rapporteur of the OEIGWG; if he will attend and engage constructively at the fifth intergovernmental meeting of the OEIGWG in Geneva in October 2019; and if influence will be used to help ensure the EU participates with a negotiating mandate in the fifth session of the OEIGWG. [13145/19]

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Seán Crowe

Question:

152. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to support a UN binding treaty on business and human rights in 2019; if constructive feedback will be provided on the zero draft of the treaty; if he will participate in upcoming consultations organised by the chair-rapporteur of the open-ended intergovernmental working group; if he will attend and engage constructively at the fifth intergovernmental meeting of the working group in Geneva in October 2019; and if he will use influence to help ensure the EU participates with a negotiating mandate in the fifth session of the working group. [13168/19]

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Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

153. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to support a UN binding treaty on business and human rights in 2019; if feedback will be provided on the draft of the treaty; if he will participate in upcoming consultations organised by the chair-rapporteur of the UN open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, OEIGWG; if he will attend the fifth intergovernmental meeting of the OEIGWG in Geneva in October 2019; if he will help to ensure the EU participates with a negotiating mandate in the fifth session of the OEIGWG; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13203/19]

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Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

154. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the way in which Ireland will support a UN binding treaty on business and human rights in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13251/19]

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Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

155. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the way in which Ireland will participate in the UN open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights which has already met a number of times; if Ireland will participate in upcoming consultations organised by the chair-rapporteur of the working group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13252/19]

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Seán Haughey

Question:

158. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if Ireland will engage constructively with the United Nations open–ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights with a view to finalising a treaty on business and human rights; the approach which will be taken to the fifth session of the working group to be held in October 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13364/19]

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Róisín Shortall

Question:

159. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to support a UN binding treaty on business and human rights; if he will engage proactively in the 2019 process to build on the initial draft of the treaty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13380/19]

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Joe Carey

Question:

161. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position with respect to a UN binding treaty on business and human rights in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13414/19]

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Michael McGrath

Question:

162. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to support a UN binding treaty on business and human rights in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13464/19]

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Catherine Martin

Question:

171. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to support a binding UN treaty on business and human rights; if he has provided feedback on the current zero draft of the treaty published on 16 July 2018 by the open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights; if he will be participating in upcoming consultations organised by the chair-rapporteur of the working group; and if he will be encouraging the EU to participate with a negotiating mandate in the fifth session of the OEIGWG. [14039/19]

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Catherine Martin

Question:

172. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if Ireland will be attending and engaging in the fifth intergovernmental meeting of open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights in Geneva in October 2019. [14040/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 137, 141, 147, 148, 151 to 155, inclusive, 158, 159, 161, 162, 171 and 172 together.

I am aware of the petition that has been circulated to all members regarding a UN binding treaty on business and human rights.

The background to this petition relates to the work of the Inter-Governmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises, which was established on foot of a resolution to the Human Rights Council in 2014, led by a number of developing countries, including Ecuador and South Africa.

Four sessions of the Inter-Governmental Working Group have taken place to date. In advance of the fourth and most recent session in October 2018, Ecuador circulated the zero draft of a legally binding instrument. The next session of the Group will meet in October 2019 and Ireland will work with our EU partners to look at how we might actively and constructively engage in the negotiation process, notwithstanding our serious concerns about the way in which the work of the Group has been conducted to date. While we are open to looking at options for progress on a legally binding treaty, we believe that all economic operators should be treated in a non-discriminatory manner. The draft treaty that has currently been circulated focuses on transnational corporations and it is Ireland's view that any new treaty should cover both companies engaged in purely domestic operations as well as transnational corporations.

We would wish to see essential human rights principles reflected in any possible instrument, which should reaffirm the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights and stress the primary responsibility of States under existing human rights obligations to protect against human rights violations.

Ultimately, if it is to achieve its objectives, any legally binding instrument should enjoy broad support among UN Member States to ensure its effectiveness as well as international coherence in the framework of business and human rights. On this point, I would note that of the 21 countries which to date have adopted National Plans on Business and Human Rights, 16, including Ireland, are EU Member States. We would like to see any new initiative build on, rather than duplicate, existing measures such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy. Above all we believe that it should be rooted in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. In this regard, we are of the view that the UN Working Party on Business and Human Rights and the annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights provide appropriate fora for consideration of any new initiatives..