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6 trends shaping human rights & business in Africa: Observations from Africa Forum by Mike Baab, Danish Institute

Author: Mike Baab, Danish Institute for Human Rights, Published on: 7 October 2014

"Six Trends Shaping the Human Rights and Business Agenda in Africa: Observations from The UN’s Africa Regional Forum"

[1] Expect More Growth and Investment...[with] likely...impacts across the continent that aren’t universally positive....
[2] Emerging sectors...[including] technology, media and telecoms; retail and consumer products; and financial services...
[3] State-owned enterprises...have every incentive and opportunity to operate intransparently, and aren’t subject to...inspections, investigations, penalties or external pressure that make Western companies (slightly) more likely to protect human rights...
[4] Revenue Transparency and Tax Justice...$55 billion [worth of oil] was purchased [between 2011 and 2013] by Swiss commodity trading companies...[Is it] a coincidence that...[they are based] in a country that doesn’t require them to disclose...payments...to foreign governments?...[As] more investment arrives...and...diversifies...the problem of disappearing revenue is only going to become more acute.
[5] Rising Prominence of Non-Western Investment...[It] was...a bit disappointing that non-Western companies were almost entirely absent from the [UN's] Africa Regional Forum this year.
[6] Trade Integration...Missed opportunities for [intra-African] trade raise prices [and] prevent the poor from accessing markets...

Recommendations:...Use existing leverage points [including IFC and OECD National Contact Points]...Create parallel initiatives...[by integrating human rights into the] Kimberley Process and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative...[and in] other sectors...Lobby home governments... Western consumers and governments can be activated to undertake...action [on business & human rights]...Create new leverage mechanisms...[over] state-owned enterprises and non-Western investment...[and with] African populations...[and consumers] in China, India, Russia, Brazil, Malaysia and other [countries]...investing on the continent...

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