By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja
The Steering Committee of the National Business and Human Rights Roundtable has called on stakeholders to coordinate and collaborate to ensure the adoption and implementation of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights in Nigeria (NAPBHR).
The Committee noted that with the delay by the President in assenting to the NAPBHR, the country is actually failing to recognize the UN Guiding Principles of the state’s duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business, the corporate’s responsibility to respect human rights, and access to remedies for victims of corporate-related abuse.
In a communique issued at the national business and human rights roundtable held in Lagos on October 26 – 27, 2022 with the theme “Promoting Human Rights in Business”, the committee stated that there was a wide gap between business aspirations and business actions on human rights, noting that while over 90% of businesses that are participating in the UN Global Compact have policies, only 18% conduct their activities in line with these policies to uphold human rights.
The annual National Business and Human Rights Roundtable (NBH2R), which was hosted by Global Rights in partnership with the United Nations Global Compact Network Nigeria. brought together various actors from the civil society sector, businesses, and government, including regulatory agencies and other stakeholders to discuss pertinent issues on the implementation of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAPBHR).
The Committee among other issues noted the forced acquisition of large hectares of land by companies in host communities without due process of disclosure of information. They also alleged that corporations unilaterally draft the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoUs) without the input of traditional rulers or people of the host communities.
The Roundtable also alleged weak government regulatory and enforcement mechanisms, poor monitoring/verification of companies spending on communities, and focus on profits while neglecting the impact of business activities on people and society, noting that human rights violations are more visible when the proceeds of natural resources are not managed transparently which often results in conflicts with host communities.
The Committee in its recommendations unanimously adopted and recommended that Government must protect citizens from harm, penalize perpetrators of harm, and enforce regulatory measures.
The Communique read “There must be proper coordination and collaboration among all stakeholders to ensure the speedy adoption and adequate implementation of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights in Nigeria.
It further stated the need to mainstream NAPBHR into extant laws and regulations such as the Land Use Act, National and state environmental laws and regulations amongst others.
“The Human Rights Funds as contained in the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Act must be immediately activated in order to provide the needed resources for the NHRC to adequately drive the process of effective implementation of the NAP, further calling on the Nigerian Government to set a clear legal framework for information disclosures, community consultation, and engagement processes in large-scale infrastructure projects.
The NAPBHR is a framework that articulates the country’s priorities and actions to align activities of stakeholders in different sectors in a way that reflects Nigeria’s duties under international human rights law to protect against adverse business-related human rights impacts and provide effective access to remedy, with the core objective to facilitate a shared understanding of the NAPBHR among businesses, regulators, civil society organizations and other stakeholders and to promote collective perspectives on strategies for implementing the NAP.