On the occasion of the 2nd edition of the African Business and Human Rights Forum, the Fredrich-Ebert-Stiftung African Union Cooperation Office in collaboration with IndustriALL Sub- Saharan Africa (SSA) regional office has organized a two days trade unions workshop on business and human rights in Addis Ababa, 4-5 September 2023, mainly to discuss the role of trade unions in the drafting and development of NAPs on B&HRs and on the overall B&HRs landscape in Africa.
Africa is experiencing a rapid economic growth since the 2000’s, where there is a growing presence of multinational corporations and business in the continent is evident. Millions of people across the board are benefiting from the job opportunities, however, what comes along is the rise of human right violations within the business conduct. Recent litigations in Africa have shown that business violations of human rights form a significant proportion of right to development infringement on the African continent. Several multinational corporations have been implicated in the illegal exploitation of natural resources, forced labor, bad and risky working environment and some of the activities are resulted environment damage and air pollution as well.
In order to be effective in the dealing with human rights violations emanating from the activities of businesses, the UN has endorsed the UNGPs on B&HRs in 2014 as a global policy tool to account, manage, track and govern human rights violations within the business conduct. Several regional and continental organizations, including the African Union, have endorsed the UNGPs and regionalized and implemented the principles within their respective domain.
As a blue print to the UNGPs, the African Union also has decided to draft the continental policy framework on business and human rights with some specificity and peculiarity to the African context. The AU’s policy is a right step towards ensuring business upholds human rights. But it’s only the start of a long journey towards deepening a culture of respect for human rights among businesses in Africa. The AUBHRP urges African countries to adopt a National Action Plan (NAP) on B&HRs as policy tool to standardize and monitor the business and human rights landscape within their boundary. To date, three African countries have adopted a NAP on B&HRs while several others has shown a political commitment to peruse the road. While the trend is positive, however, the discussion to draft, adopt and implement the NAPs on B&HRs are dominated by state actors and business. Trade Unions and right groups are excluded and/or not given an adequate political space to voice their concern and be a part of the political process.
Against this background, trade unions from several African countries convened in Addis to debate and discuss about their role and identifying strategies in creating transparent, inclusive, and participatory political process when it comes to national action plans. In addition, they call upon the African Union to be just and inclusive of trade Union in regional and continental discussions on B&HRs topics.
For more information please contact Mr. Amanuel Desalegne.