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African countries converge to review UN’s LBI for transnationals

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UN Draft Meeting

Representatives from Ghana and some African countries have converged in Accra to review and make input into the draft of the Legally Binding Instrument (LBI) on Human rights for transnationals.

The instrument, known as the United Nations Guiding Principle of Business on Human Rights, is meant to regulate the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises within the context of international human rights law.

The meeting was proposed by civil society actors such as ActionAid Ghana and hosted in Ghana through the consultative collaboration between Ghana Ministry of Justice and Attorney General and the Ministry of External Relations of Cameroon.

It was in anticipation of the State-led direct intergovernmental negotiations during the ninth session of the open ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises.
The event will be held between October 23 and October 27 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Delegates shared their insights on how the instrument could be administered in their respective countries to the utmost benefit of citizens and the continent.

They observed that the continent had been impacted by the lack of specific international, and national regulations to hold transnational corporations liable and ensure access to justice for victims along the transnational webs and value chains.

Speaking at the intersessional consultation for the Africa region, Mrs. Diana Asonaba Dapaah, Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice, underscored the importance of the engagement.

“We have met here today as African countries to share our African voice and look at the draft treaty that is presently before the United Nations Human Rights Council from an African perspective because the continent has peculiar challenges, problems, and opportunities so that we can have a common voice,” she said.

She said the challenges facing the continent in the operations of transnational companies are quite similar, so it was imperative that the continent presents a common voice.

John Nkaw, Country Director of ActionAid Ghana, said transnational companies must be transparent in their dealings with regard to the impact of their operations on host communities.

He said the operations of transnational companies for example within the mining sector negatively affected the host communities by threatening their source of livelihood and polluting their water bodies with chemicals.

He said transnational companies must mainstream accountability measures by engaging the host communities on how their operations affect them.

This measure, he said, would enable the companies to address how their activities threaten the livelihood security of the host communities.

“For example, in the case of Ghana, we have received several complaints, particularly in mining areas where people’s cocoa farms are destroyed without compensation. negative impact of this mining is polluting the water bodies of the companies,” he said.

He said the regional consultation meeting is aimed at developing an African-centred framework for transnational companies to engage the host communities in view of the impact of their operations.

Miss Nonyana-Mokabane, Chief Director of the Legislative Drafting Unit of the Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition, South Africa, bemoaned major human violations perpetuated by transnational corporations on the African continent.

According to her, human rights violations are rarely reported and punishable, saying the violations range from abuse of workers to commercial exploitation of children and unscrupulous financial products that often take advantage of illiterate consumers.

Human rights abuse she observed through misrepresentation of product features and weak disclosure in labelling products is frequently perpetuated by financial institutions on the continent.

She said there is no legally binding framework to address human rights abuses by enterprises and business entities.

Thus, it is important that the United Nations Guiding Principle be adopted to address human rights violations by transnational corporations.

To ensure that the United Nations Binding Treaty is adhered to, he disclosed that his outfit has already commenced engagement with relevant stakeholders on how to integrate the charter into their operations.

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