By Progress Godfrey, Abuja
With human rights being violated by businesses operating in Nigeria – both public and private, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), has shown its commitment by putting together, the draft cohesive ‘Human Rights Due Diligence Document’
The Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani) at the ‘high level meeting’ with stakeholders on business and human rights, Tuesday in Abuja, emphasized that in a country where several businesses both local and international operate in different parts of its territory, protection against human rights abuses by businesses is very important.
The project, he said, aims at stimulation and promotion of the human rights agenda in Nigeria’s business sector through the collaborative platform of the standing National Roundtable on Business and Human Rights (NBH2R), and the promotion of a National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights (NAP) for Nigeria.
He further stressed the need for citizens across the length and breadth of the country, especially within host communities such as mining communities, as well as oil producing communities who seem to be affected the most to rise up and demand that government protects their rights and deal decisively on issues of human rights violations arising from activities of businesses operating within Nigeria.
He however noted that there has been advocacy, and ongoing efforts by the multi-stakeholder National Roundtable on Business and Human Rights as well as other relevant stakeholders, to ensure that Nigeria adopts a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights.
He said, “In a society like Nigeria where you have several businesses both local and international operating in different parts of the country, protection against human rights abuses within the Nigerian territory by businesses is very important. It is expedient for the Government to take appropriate steps to prevent, investigate, punish and redress such abuses through effective policies, legislation, regulations and adjudication.
“Relevant stakeholders have continued to demand appropriate actions and accountability from the government who is signatory to international Charters such as the United Nations Guiding Principle on Business and Human Rights (UNGP) that seeks to promote implementation of Protection, Respect and Remedy for human rights abuses/ violations by transnational corporations and business enterprises.
“Undoubtedly, there has been advocacy, and ongoing efforts by the multi-stakeholder National Roundtable on Business and Human Rights as well as other relevant stakeholders, to ensure that Nigeria adopts a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, and more importantly, implement the NAP as a means to fulfill its duty under the national constitution and international obligations to promote and protect human rights.
“There is also a need, for citizens across the length and breadth of the country, especially within host communities such as mining communities as well as oil producing communities who seem to be affected the most, to rise up and demand that government protects their rights and deal decisively on issues of human rights violations arising from activities of businesses operating within Nigeria.
“This project aims at stimulation and promotion of human rights agenda in Nigeria’s business sector through the collaborative platform of the standing National Roundtable on Business and Human Rights (NBH2R) and the promotion of a National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights (NAP) for Nigeria as a fundamental element in government agenda and In furtherance of this, we have developed a draft cohesive human rights due diligence document which could be incorporated within the framework of the current draft National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights.”
The ED expressed his appreciation for the inputs and support received on the document from various stakeholders consulted, including all organizations represented in the meeting, hoping that National Human Rights Commission who has also been part of this process receives the draft document and also incorporates it into the already existing National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP) due to the fact that its content/provisions aim to compliment and further enrich the NAP.
He therefore handed the ‘HRDDD’ to the NHRC and further commended Global Rights and the Open Society Foundations who he said, graciously supported the initiative and provided the much needed resources for undertaking such a novel and timely intervention.
Also speaking, Anthony Ojukwu Esq, the Executive Secretary of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), represented by NHRC’s Assistant Director Legal, Mrs Pwadumdi Okoh, expressed pleasure for the NHRC to have found a worthy stakeholder amongst others in the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in the quest to develop an effective and implementable National Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights in our Nation, explaining that one of the qualities of a good and effective NAP is wide consultation, and collaborating with CISLAC and other stakeholders has ensured that a wide range of relevant stakeholders have been carried along in the drafting of the NAP on Business and Human Rights.
“The Commission appreciates the effort CISLAC has put in place by organizing various stakeholders’ consultative forum to look at the draft NAP on BHR and further develop a Cohesive Human Rights Due Diligence Document, a document aimed at causing the easy implementation of the NAP on BHR by all affected sectors and institutions, which is intended to be submitted to the Commission to further integrate into the NAP and other policy recommendation to government.
“To summarily capture the components of the human rights due diligence document, here are some of the issues contained in the document which are also common human rights principles which to a certain extent encapsulates some principles of a sustainable business:reach of due diligence, liability and access to justice, remediation/remedy, disclosure of evidence, overriding mandatory rule, role of States, role of society, human rights due diligence training/counseling and conclusions.
“While in business, sustainability refers to doing business without negatively impacting the environment, community, or society as a whole. When companies fail to assume responsibility, the opposite can happen, leading to issues like environmental degradation, inequality, and social injustice,” he said
He added that the Commission has, in view of the importance of this sector, added Business and Human Rights as one of the components of the general NAP on Human Rights for the next season.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of Global Rights, Abiodum Baiyewu who was represented by the Program Officer Global Rights, Foluso Ibigbami commended CISLAC, noting that one of the joys of collaborating with people is that “you can send them on errands and have them deliver on time”
She however called on Civil Society Organisations to stop the talk-shows and unanimously rise and hold government accountable on the situation these communities find themselves, rather than sit and watch host communities suffer despite the presence of these companies.