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Information note for NGOs on the open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights

At its 26th session, on 26 June 2014, the Human Rights Council adopted Resolution A/HRC/26/9 by which it decided “to establish an open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, whose mandate shall be to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.”

The first session of the open-ended intergovernmental working group (OEIWG) will take place from 6 to 10 July 2015 in Room XX, Palais des Nations, Geneva. Interpretation will be provided in the six official United Nations languages.

All UN Member and Observer States, specialized agencies and other intergovernmental organizations, national human rights institutions accredited by the International Coordinating Committee and non-governmental organizations with ECOSOC consultative status may attend public meetings of the OEIWG.

1. Access to relevant information on the Web

All relevant documentation pertaining to the sessions of the OEIWG is accessible from the OHCHR website. Kindly refer to this website for updates:

2. Accreditation and assistance for requesting travel visas

NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC wishing to accredit representatives to the first session of the OEIWG must send a letter of request for accreditation to the OEIWG Secretariat, either by email (igwg-tncs@ohchr.org), by fax on +41 22 917 90 08, or by mail to UNOG-OHCHR, CH-1211 Geneva 10, copying the UNOG NGO Liaison Officer if a visa attestation is required (see below).

The letter of request for accreditation should be sent well in advance of the session (at least two weeks in advance if visa attestations are required). Upon request, the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) NGO Liaison Office (not the Secretariat of the OEIWG) may issue relevant ‘attestation of accreditation’ for visa application purposes.

In order to obtain such an attestation, NGOs enjoying consultative status with ECOSOC should explicitly indicate their need in the accreditation request faxed or sent to the Secretariat, and copied to the UNOG Liaison Office which will issue the attestation and transmit it to the headquarters of the NGO concerned. Please consult Swiss consular officials in your country regarding visa application deadlines, apply accordingly and ensure that all documentation is in order.

The UNOG Liaison Office may be contacted at the following address:

United Nations Office at Geneva 
NGO Liaison Office
Office of the Director-General
Room 153
Palais des Nations
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: + 41 (0)22 917 21 27
Fax: +41 (0)22 917 05 83
Email: ungeneva.ngoliaison@unog.ch

The letter of request for accreditation must contain the following elements:

  • Submitted on the official letterhead of the organization;
  • State the title and duration of the session the organization wishes to attend, e.g. "[Name of NGO], in consultative status with ECOSOC, wishes to send the following members to attend the 1st session of the Open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights (6 to 10 July 2015)...";
  • List the name/s (FAMILY NAME, First name) of the person/s who will represent the organization at the session. Names of persons must be exactly as they appear in their passports;
  • List the name(s) of those members already in possession of a valid identity badge issued by UNOG Security and Safety Section, and who plan to attend the session, with an indication that the person(s) hold(s) an annual badge.The letter must be signed by the President, or Chief Executive Officer of the organization, or the organization’s Main Representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva if he/she is so authorized.

Annual or temporary NGO representatives in possession of an identity badge issued by UNOG Security and Safety Section, and valid for the duration of the session, will have unrestricted access to the conference rooms. However, it is still necessary to send a letter requesting accreditation.

Any other participants without a UNOG identity badge should apply in person to the security entrance at Pregny Gate, 8–14 Avenue de la Paix; on presentation of an identity document and a copy of the letter of accreditation that has been faxed to the Secretariat by the NGO concerned, a photo-badge valid for the duration of the session will be issued. The security entrance at “Pregny Gate” will be open from Monday to Friday from 8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. throughout the session.

Please Note: On occasions of increased demand for participation in a given session, the Secretariat may limit access to the plenary room in terms of the number of accredited participants per NGO delegation. Therefore it would be useful to indicate in your request for accreditation if you seek access to the plenary, to the public gallery (see also below) or to a parallel event (see also below).

4. Access to the public gallery

A limited number of seats in the Public Gallery, above the conference room, are available for persons wishing to observe the proceedings of the OEIWG without being accredited as participants (e.g. students and academics). Individuals or groups who wish to attend are required to send a request (at least 24 hours before the desired date) to the Secretariat (by fax on +41 22 917 90 08, or by email at igwg-tncs@ohchr.org), containing the following information:

(a) Date(s) of the visit; 
(b) Purpose of the visit; and 
(c) Full name(s) of those wishing to attend;
(d) Name and website of the institution/organization to which you are affiliated.

Access to the public gallery will be granted according to the availability of seating and other circumstances.

5. Written contributions

UN Member and Observer States, and other relevant stakeholders, may submit written contributions on possible principles, scope and elements of an international legally binding instrument (OP5, Res. A/HRC/26/9), in line with the principles and objectives of the Council Res.5/1. These contributions will be made available on the OEIWG web page.

Contributions received from relevant stakeholders that are not in consultative status with ECOSOC are subject to a word limit (2,000 words).  They will not be issued as official documents with a conference room paper number, but will be published on the OEIWG web page, providing they relate to the mandate of the OEIWG session (see OP2 and OP5, Res. A/HRC/26/9), are drafted in a non-abusive language, and identify the submitting NGO (as anonymous information is not accepted).

Written contributions should be submitted electronically to the Secretariat (igwg-tncs@ohchr.org),  suitably by 22 June 2015. Further contributions will also be welcome, no later than two weeks after the Session (i.e. 24 July 2015). Contributions must be submitted in one of the official UN languages and in MS Word Document format (Font Times New Roman 10; no bold; no underline; no italics), and in accordance with the Secretariat guidelines, accessible at the following link: submission form. For environmental considerations, concise submissions are encouraged.  Please specify whether your organization is in consultative status with ECOSOC. 

6. Oral statements

Accredited NGOs may make oral statements under substantive items of the agenda. NGOs can only be (pre-) registered to speak by persons holding a badge of the NGO concerned.

All participants are encouraged to submit their oral statements in writing prior to their interventions in order to facilitate simultaneous interpretation. Please send them to: igwg-tncs@ohchr.org.

Please note that 25 copies of the oral statement must be provided to the UN Conference Service at the beginning of the relevant meeting. Conference Service staff can be approached in the middle of the conference room. Photocopiers are available near the conference room.

To take the floor, NGO speakers should use the conference-table seat reserved for that purpose.

Additional copies of NGO oral statements may be placed by NGOs on the tables at the back of the conference room, after delivery of the relevant statement. NGOs are not permitted to distribute any other documents or pamphlets in the conference room. Two tables and boards will be placed outside the conference room where NGOs with ECOSOC consultative status may display their materials.

7. Parallel meetings organized by NGOs

Accredited NGOs may organize parallel events of relevance to the work of the OEIWG, in line with the principles and objectives of the Council, Res.5/1.

Side events will only take place from 13h00 to 15h00. Room-booking request forms are available at: room request form. Room booking requests will be received by the Secretariat, and the deadline for receipt of completed room request forms is 22 June 2015. Please note that due to time and space limitations it may not be possible to accommodate all proposals.

NGOs are requested to provide the Secretariat of the OEIWG with a complete list of guests at least 48 hours prior to the day of the meeting. Accordingly, “Parallel Event” badges will be issued on the day of the scheduled event, at the “Pregny Gate” security entrance, upon presentation of a valid identification paper.

Please be advised that the Secretariat does not provide interpretation for NGO parallel events. NGOs may bring their own interpreters, if they so wish, and inform the Secretariat of the OEIWG accordingly ahead of time. The use of cameras/videos during parallel events is not encouraged. Only journalists and camera-people accredited on a yearly basis with UNOG are allowed to use camera and video equipment.

8. Audio listening

Audio recordings of the OEIWG session will be accessible afterwards from the UNOG Digital recordings online portal: http://conf.unog.ch/digitalrecordings/

9. Contact details

For any further details, please contact the Secretariat by telephone (Ms Eimear Farrell: +41 22 917 96 64; Mr. Robert Vaughan: +41 22 9289387) or by email (igwg-tncs@ohchr.org).

See the information in French and Spanish