PRESS STATEMENT | LHR at the second session of the Africa Business and Human Rights Forum

Date: 04/09/2023

Lawyers for Human Rights is proud to announce our participation in the second session of the Africa Business and Human Rights Forum, a significant session aligned with our commitment to promoting responsible business conduct, human rights, and corporate accountability in Africa. This forum arises from the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights’ Resolution on Business and Human Rights in Africa, aligning with its mandate to protect and promote human and people’s rights on the continent, as outlined in Article 45 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The ACHPR made key recommendations, urging the African Union (AU) to incorporate soft law instruments and adapt its strategies in light of the operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and to emphasise a human rights-based approach to the blue economy.

The African Business and Human Rights Forum 2023 carries the theme “For Africa, From Africa” emphasising the significance of local perspectives and solutions in implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), especially concerning the operationalisation of AfCFTA. This theme reinforces the need for African nations to be active architects of their future, setting the stage for sustainable economic development that respects human rights.

In this context, the call for an African Treaty on Business and Human Rights becomes increasingly urgent. Such a treaty would serve as a powerful tool to address the unique challenges and opportunities in the region, ensuring that business operations in Africa align with international human rights standards. It would provide a legal framework that is both context-specific and globally relevant, a crucial step towards achieving responsible business conduct in Africa.

On day zero of the forum, LHR will participate in a side event focused on economic justice for women and corporate accountability. Thato Gaffane, a Candidate Legal Practitioner in the Environmental Rights Programme of LHR and a participant of the forum said “this subject is of paramount importance as it highlights the continued marginalisation of women in business and economic spheres. Women have historically faced unequal access to resources, opportunities, and decision-making power. To rectify this injustice and uphold the principle of equality, robust conversations are necessary. We must ensure that African regional instruments and international standards converge to protect the rights and dignity of women.”

LHR aims to engage with regional stakeholders during the forum to further the recommendations of the ACHPR’ Resolution on Business and Human Rights in Africa. We believe that collaboration and dialogue among governments, civil society organisations, and the private sector are essential in translating these recommendations into concrete actions. Through working together, we can create an environment where businesses operate responsibly, respect human rights, and contribute positively to Africa’s development.

In conclusion, LHR looks forward to actively participating in the African Business and Human Rights Forum 2023. We hope to contribute to a more just and equitable future for Africa.

For more information contact:

Thato Gaffane, Environmental Rights Programme

Tel: 011 339 1960

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