Statement on Scope: What Human Rights Should Be Enforced under the Instrument with Respect to Activities of TNCs and Other Business Enterprises?

13 July 2015

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom joins the statement of the Treaty Alliance and would like to further develop some points.


As announced earlier this week, WILPF believes that the issue of the scope of human rights violations requires a close gender analysis to ensure that violations to women’s human rights will be duly addressed.

CEDAW Committee has addressed the issue of extraterritorial responsibility of states to avoid women’s Human Rights violations by corporations based in their countries. In General Recommendation 28 the Committee states that: “the obligations incumbent upon States […] also extend to acts of national corporations operating extraterritorially”.

When land-grabbing occurs, women are easy targets: often they have even more difficulties than their male co-citizens to prove ownership over land because of legal inequalities or administrative discriminatory practices. Redress may also have different impacts, as compensation for land-grabbing is often easier to obtain for men than for women for similar reasons.

When it comes to labour rights, women’s labour rights are still universally a challenge. Women are often particularly affected for instance by receiving even lower salaries than men and working even longer shifts in conditions that are similar to slavery.


WILPF is deeply concerned about suggestions that this treaty may cover only grave or gross human rights violations. Grave or gross violations necessarily imply some degree of subjectivity and for that reason, human rights violations that are women-specific have never been considered as grave or gross violations.

For instance, domestic violence is the most widespread and systematic form of violence that exists. It is perpetrated in all countries around the world, it is a grave act of serious consequences and is consistently not duly addressed by States. However, it is never considered as a grave or gross human rights violation.

Gender-based violence and sexual violence or femicide are often used to silence the voices of women human rights defenders opposing corporate projects. But gender-based violence often takes place in the private sphere, if it involves rape or sexual violence, these acts are often misconceived as independent or disconnected from the wider scheme of violence being perpetrated to silence opposing voices. Their systematic nature is often overlooked.

WILPF recommends that all human rights violations be covered by this instrument regardless of how systematic they are considered to be.

We would like to ask the distinguished panellists the following questions:

  • How would you ensure that gender-specific human rights violations are covered by this instrument?
  • Which human rights violations that are specific to women should be included in the scope of the treaty?
  • What existing best practices in other treaties could we learn from?