Citizens For Justice (CFJ) was among the participants at this year’s sub-regional training seminar for community leaders and members of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) co-organised by the OHCHR Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSA) and the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). The three day seminar which gathered community leaders and NHRI representatives from South Africa, Malawi, Madagascar, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique in Johannesburg, South Africa, was aimed at increasing conceptual and practical awareness and capacity on business and human rights.
The participants were afforded the opportunity to engage in dialogue on relevant human rights in the extractive industry including the rights of migrants in the extractive industry; women’s economic empowerment and gender rights in mining; the impact of displacement and accountability for human rights abuses affected communities; and challenges in the protection of environment and the impact on human rights.
Using the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) as a guide, the participants made a valuable attempt to consolidate a unifying framework for human rights impacted by corporations and also offered tactical opportunities for improved engagement at national, regional and global levels. Additionally, the seminar also included a module on the Principles for Responsible Contracts as a subsidiary set of principles that provides practical guidance prior to, and during negotiation of investment contract. In this module,participants were introduced to preventative mechanisms and dispute resolution frameworks to resolve conflict and disputes.
The seminar concluded with draft observations, recommendations and proposed areas for advocacy following a review of the UNGPs under the three pillars of State duty to protect human rights against infringements by business enterprises; the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, and access to remedy, including regional and international accountability mechanisms.