So. Africa: NGOs publish "shadow" natl. baseline assessment on govt.'s implementation of business & human rights frameworks

Author: Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria (So. Africa) & Intl. Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR), Published on: 4 April 2016

[This “Shadow” National Baseline Assessment (NBA) assesses South African laws, policies, regulations, and standards that pertain to business and human rights at the national level against the UNGPs and other relevant business and human rights frameworks. Findings include:]

...While many States have openly expressed support for the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), the South African government is currently prioritizing the process around a treaty on business and human rights at the UN level. However, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has led several capacity building initiatives that include a focus on the UNGPs. In addition, several multinational companies in South Africa have expressed interest and support for the UNGPs and are building internal capacity around them....Under South Africa’s domestic legislative framework, several issues require attention in terms of business and human rights impacts [some of which are]:

  • Concerns in the labor sphere revolve around job insecurity, inadequate wages, and poor working conditions, especially in the informal sector...
  • Land  reform  remains  a  controversial  topic  in  the  country, due  to  the  legacies  of  South Africa’s turbulent past and the historically discriminatory dispensation of land...
  • ...several concerns remain around the issue of illicit financial flows due to ongoing transfer pricing and other tax avoidance practices in the country.
  • The public procurement system in South Africa is frequently under scrutiny, often facing allegations of corruption and cartel-related  incidents.
  • Human rights due diligence requirements and measurements are still lacking across the business spectrum in South Africa...
  • The Protection of Investment Bill...will regulate foreign direct investment going forward. While  the  human  rights  implications are still relatively unclear,  the bill has been widely criticized for deterring foreign direct investment.
  • South Africa also houses an active Public Protector that has launched several business and human rights-related investigations around the abuse of public power, misadministration of public funds...
  • Barriers to access to remedies that victims of corporate human rights abuse face in South Africa include a number of issues...[such as]  difficulties in  piercing the corporate veil...issues around forum non-conveniens...very high legal costs with relatively little financial aid, which is exacerbated by the “loser pays” principle...

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