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28 Jun 2023

Ariella Scher, Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS)

Africa: New publication explores proposed business and human rights treaty from feminist perspective

"Launch: Transnational Corporations and Human Rights in Africa", 28 Jun 2023

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies is today launching the booklet ‘Transnational Corporations and Human Rights in Africa: The Case for a Binding Legal Instrument to Ensure Corporate Accountability on the Continent’ during the African regional Indaba on the UN binding treaty on business and human rights in Johannesburg.

The booklet brings together a collection of resources developed by CALS and our partners, addressing the themes related to the proposed treaty in which they have the most expertise. This publication explores the proposed treaty from an African feminist perspective. It interrogates the importance of including free, prior, and informed consent  (commonly referred to as FPIC) in the treaty and highlights environmental and climate justice issues. It also examines the treaty’s impact on trade and the importance of addressing illicit financial flows. Finally, it critically reflects on the treaty text and its process so far and proposes a way forward.

In their quest to maximise profits, transnational corporations have a legacy of exploiting Africa’s resources and abusing human rights in the process. The publication reveals that the impacts of these violations together with corporate impunity in Africa and other parts of the developing world, are not gender-neutral. Instead, patriarchal and capitalist systems combine to exploit the status of women in society and worsen gender inequality. In large industries such as extractives and agriculture, women are forced to bear the greatest burdens of environmental degradation and poor working and living conditions. Therefore, to develop a tool that successfully addresses corporate abuse and impunity, we must ensure it responds to the lived realities of those most affected by the abuse, particularly women and gender-diverse persons...

“The booklet further argues that the development of the treaty comes at a time of continuing economic liberalisation and thus increasing corporate power. It is important that the treaty recognises the deepening economic integration of the African continent, particularly through trade agreements...