Stakeholders want FG to overhaul national business, human rights

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By Fortune Abang

Some stakeholders have called on the Federal Government to constitute and inaugurate the National Working Group on Business and Human Rights (NWGBHR) to achieve meaningful progress.

The stakeholders gave the advice in a communique issued on their behalf by Ms Naomi Nwokolo, Executive-Director of United Nations Global Compact Network Nigeria (UNGC-NN), in Abuja.

Nwokolo said the communique was unanimously adopted by the stakeholders on outcome of the 2023 National Business and Human Rights Roundtable held on Aug. 18, in Lagos.

The roundtable with the theme: “Giving effect to the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights in Nigeria” centered on understanding and effective implementation of Nigeria’s recently approved “National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights.

The roundtable is a multi-stakeholder initiative which promotes dialogue between various businesses, government, regulators, business host communities, consumers and civil society as partners of business and human rights community in Nigeria.

The roundtable was coordinated by a National Steering Committee, co-chaired by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Convention on Business Integrity (CBI) with Global Rights as Secretariat.

Other steering committee members include CSR in-Action, Accountability Lab Nigeria, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Paradigm Initiative, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Oxfam in Nigeria and EarthNews Nigeria.

“Government must constitute and inaugurate the NWGBHR provided in the Action Plan, to effectively develop strategies and closely monitor implementation of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights.

“Government must set measurable targets, responsibilities and baselines for monitoring, and evaluating success of the implementation of the Action Plan.

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“Strategies for implementing the Action Plan must of necessity include the key principles in the Child Rights Act, Labour Act, Data Protection Act, Persons with Disability Act and other relevant legislation.

“To ensure inclusivity and consideration of all interests in promoting human rights,” she said.

Nwokolo explained that once constituted, NWGBHR would create an independent body responsible for managing a grievance reporting mechanism.

Also, such body should channel grievances to appropriate public authorities or regulators, track response by the authority, ensure rapid response to grievances, and establish clear consequences for violations.

“Strategies for implementing the Action Plan must include recognition of good practices and strict sanctions for violations.

“Establish a centralized report for various actions and initiatives, ensuring all relevant matters are properly documented and accessible.

“Government must ensure that available stakeholder platforms for meaningful engagements remain open to all stakeholders, including business host communities, in designing the structure of engagements and reflecting inclusivity in participation.”

She further said that since the past eight years, Global Rights, which serves as the secretariat of the National Business and Human Rights Roundtable, facilitated the annual roundtable through partnership with NHRC.

Others include, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Integrity Organization Limited (Gte), CSR-in-Action, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), MAN and UNGC-NN, which co-convened this year’s roundtable.

The Action Plan enable the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP) Framework, to ensure Access-to-Remedy for individuals or communities adversely affected by business operations in Nigeria. (NAN) (www.nannews.com.ng)

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Edited by Benson Iziama/Isaac Aregbesola

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