Africa Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights - 16-18 Sep, Addis Ababa

AfricaThe UN Working Group on business & human rights convened an "African Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights", 16-18 September 2014 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Click here for "Practical information".

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre received several NGO commentaries about the Forum and its goals, to date only in French - click here.

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Article
22 May 2015

Report on 1st African Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights

Author: UN Working Group on business & human rights

The present document provides a summary of the discussions of the African Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights, held from 16 to 18 September 2014, in Addis Ababa, and the conclusions and recommendations by the Working Group based on its reflections on the proceedings. The agenda for the Forum, the text of the main statements and the documents submitted by some of the participants can be found on the Working Group’s website.

[Included sessions on: preventing adverse impacts of extractives; access to remedy; role of Natl. Human Rights Institutions; business & conflict; land rights; national action plans]

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Item
9 October 2014

[PDF] Statement by the African Coalition for Corporate Accountability (ACCA) on the occasion of the first ever African Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights

Author: African Coalition for Corporate Accountability (ACCA)

'Statement by the African Coalition for Corporate Accountability (ACCA) on the occasion of the first ever African Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights', 9 Oct 2014: On the occasion of the African Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights...the African Coalition for Corporate Accountability (ACCA) welcomes the first meeting of this kind on the continent...[However] ACCA notes with concern the weak participation by business...domestic and foreign...state-owned enterprises, as well as...our governments. We hope...in...future there will be a stronger presence...and greater interest...in this debate. We...urge the co-hosts to continue to facilitate greater participation of affected communities to share their first-hand experiences...ACCA hopes and recommends that future initiatives...will...[i]nclude the development of concrete, time-bound strategies to address...[the formulation] of national action plans...strategies to address...implementation gaps of existing human rights mechanisms...[and] together with critical stakeholders an African strategy to implement the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights...

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Article
7 October 2014

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

"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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Article
7 October 2014

Statements and presentations [at Africa Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights (Sep 2014)]

Opening statement by Michael K. Addo, Chairperson of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, 17 September 2014: English

Opening remarks by H.E. Dr. Aisha Abdullahi (Amb.), Commissioner for Political Affairs, African Union Commission - Delivered on her behalf by Dr. Mamadou Dia, Acting Director for Political Affairs: English

Closing remarks by H.E. Dr. Aisha Abdullahi - Delivered on her behalf by Dr. Mamadou Dia: English

Closing remarks by Vice-Chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, Margaret Jungk: English

Closing remarks by Eugene Owusu, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Ethiopia: English

Statement by Jacqueline Mugo, Secretary General, Business Africa: English

"What To Do When Project Impacts Are In  Dispute?  Participatory Monitoring and Joint Fact-finding" (CAO [Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman of Intl. Finance Corp., part of World Bank] and Global Rights): English | French

OHCHR Introduction to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: English

Statement by Dayina Mayenga, Deputy Regional Director for Africa, ILO : French

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Article
29 September 2014

'Corporations rob Africa of its resources, dignity and people', say South African lawyers

Author: Nomonde Nyembe & Wandisa Phama, Centre for Applied Legal Studies in Sowetan (So. Africa)

“Corporations rob Africa of its resources, dignity and people”, 29 September 2014:...As young black women from the Southern tip of Africa...taking part in the African Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights...we could not help but consider the ...[words of] Thomas Sankara...[who] said, “Those who lent money to us are the same people who colonised us...they indebted Africa with donations of money.”...[W]e reflected on his words and their parallel to the activities of multi-national corporations...Africa... [suffers from] the “resource curse”. We have a plethora of natural resources but Africans continue to live in poverty...African states grant corporations the right to mine our minerals and thus contribute to...economic development. Some of these companies...at times abuse...African states and people...[which] has robbed Africa not only of its resources, but its identity, dignity and people. Some of these corporations...are responsible for oil spills...child labour and slavery...and conflict...that denies...[citizens of] the right to consumable water, land and food...education...peace and security...

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Article
23 September 2014

More than 60 ACCA Members Gathered in Addis Ababa for Regional Meetings

Author: African Coalition for Corporate Accountability

More than 60 people representing about 45 civil society organizations of the African Coalition for Corporate Accountability (ACCA) were gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last week to bring grassroots issues to a United Nations meeting at the African Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights, and to lay the structural foundation for the ACCA at its Second Meeting hosted by Global Rights...The members...[ranged] from national-level organizations...to provincial organizations, to grassroots groups building community capacity and local dialogue, to representatives of affected communities.  ACCA members covered the entire spectrum of Regional Forum topics, including multi-stakeholder dialogue, extractive industries, investment in land, access to judicial remedy, operational-level grievance mechanisms, an African strategy for the business & human rights agenda...ACCA members...agreed on a governance structure...agreed on a vision, mission and strategy...[and] generated options for an action plan...

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Article
17 September 2014

UN & African Union commit to advance business & human rights agenda in Africa

Author: Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

The first African Forum on Business and Human Rights concluded today with a strong call for action to make business a force for improving human rights in Africa. At the meeting, senior officials and experts underlined that the African Union and the United Nations will join forces to support responsible business practices in line with fundamental human rights standards...At the core of discussions were the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the global authoritative standard for preventing and addressing negative human rights impacts linked to business activity.“All too often have human rights concerns fallen by the wayside in the race to attract foreign investment. We have to fundamentally break with this logic and ensure that business and respect for human rights go hand-in-hand,” said AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Aisha Abdullahi.“The UN Guiding Principles provide a globally agreed global standard on how to make business and human rights work together. What is needed now is to translate these standards into concrete action plans and implementation tools tailored to the realities of African countries”, she added...National action plans were identified as an important tool to advance the business and human rights agenda. Such plans should be developed though inclusive consultative processes, bringing on board all stakeholders, to identify problems and finding solutions...

At the core of discussions were the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the global authoritative standard for preventing and addressing negative human rights impacts linked to business activity.

“All too often have human rights concerns fallen by the wayside in the race to attract foreign investment. We have to fundamentally break with this logic and ensure that business and respect for human rights go hand-in-hand,” said AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Aisha Abdullahi.

“The UN Guiding Principles provide a globally agreed global standard on how to make business and human rights work together. What is needed now is to translate these standards into concrete action plans and implementation tools tailored to the realities of African countries”, she added.

- See more at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15053&L...

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Article
17 September 2014

Forum on business and human rights in Africa opens today

Author: APA

The first African Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights kicks off on Tuesday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, with a series of side events and special sessions...Aliko Dangote, CEO and owner of the Dangote Group, will give a keynote speech at the official opening, and leading voices of African Governments, business and civil society will debate how business can become a force for improving human rights in Africa."This meeting has no precedent in the region. It is the first time such a wide range of stakeholders will gather to openly discuss how better to ensure that human rights, business and economic development work together," said Michael K. Addo, who chairs the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights. "It is a unique opportunity to promote national and regional action plans on business and human rights and the scaling up of responsible business practice," Addo added...The event will focus on issues such as ensuring access to remedy for victims, development of regional and national action plans on business and human rights, and challenges related to extractive industries, land investment, human rights defenders and conflict situations.

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Article
16 September 2014

Business and human rights in Africa – first UN regional forum from 16-18 September

Author: Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Business enterprises, governments, civil society and national human rights institutions from across Africa will meet in Addis Ababa from 16 to 18 September to discuss key business and human rights challenges for the continent. The African Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights is convened by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights with the support of the African Union, the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. It will bring together 250 participants. “This meeting...is the first time such a wide range of stakeholders will gather to openly discuss how better to ensure that human rights, business and economic development work together. It is a unique opportunity to promote national and regional action plans on business and human rights and the scaling up of responsible business practice,” said Michael K. Addo, who chairs the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights...The UN Working Group will give a press conference together with some of the participants and supporting organizations at 2 pm on Thursday 18 September 2014 at the UN Conference Centre (Press Briefing Room), Addis Ababa.

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Article
16 September 2014

[PDF] What To Do When Project Impacts Are In Dispute? Participatory Monitoring and Joint Fact-finding

Author: Scott Adams, Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), IFC & MIGA, Banque Mondiale

The Office of the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) is the independent recourse mechanism for projects supported by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA)--the private sector arms of the World Bank Group. CAO responds to complaints from project-affected communities with the goal of enhancing social and environmental outcomes on the ground. CAO reports directly to the President of the World Bank Group...Seven broad principles guide the development of effective participatory [water] monitoring programs: 1. Participation. Active participation gives those most directly affected equal voice in the design process, program implementation, and data analysis; 2. Transparency. Participants have access to information that is understandable and allows them to make informed decisions; 3. Fair Process. A fair process leads to a credible program based on learning and mutual understanding, which becomes the basis for corrective action; 4. Negotiation. Parties negotiate to reach agreement at each stage of the process: from determining what will be monitored or evaluated to deciding how and when data will be collected, interpreting what the data actually mean, agreeing to how findings will be shared, and outlining what actions will be taken...[Refers to Maple Energy and Nicaragua Sugar Estates Limited (NSEL)].

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