The US Government announced on October 30th that the Central African Republic (CAR), Gabon, Niger, and Uganda will be removed from the list of 35 sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries that are eligible for market access under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The announcement came on the eve of the 20th AGOA Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa, on the 2nd to 4th of November 2023. According to the US Government, CAR and Uganda have engaged in gross violations of internationally recognised human rights. This paper reflects on the decision, which is not the first by the Biden administration in the last few years. This paper argues that the recent decision by the US is an example of developed countries using trade incentives and sanctions to achieve their geopolitical interests in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) under the pretext of promoting human rights standards.
A new economic wisdom seems to be informing the development agenda of international economic institutions, including the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO). The argument is that, although global value chains (GVCs) have existed for a long time, the pace and intensity of global interactions is rapidly changing, consisting of ever more functional ‘fractionalization’ and geographical ‘dispersion’ of production, and so is the nature of trade, with the unprecedented increase in the exchange of components and tasks originating in different parts of the world.
Enforcement of socio-economic rights in Kenya, with minimal success rate, has proven quite problematic. In almost all petitions on socio-economic rights, the government always pleads progressive realization, inadequate resources and the doctrine of separation of powers. Enforcement of socio-economic rights such as the right to adequate housing requires allocation of resources for their realization.
Apart from the challenges presented by the pandemic, governments in developing economies have the current difficulty of providing essential public goods and social services even during normalcy. How quickly economies recover after the crisis may depend on the nature of coping initiatives employed during the pandemic. It is therefore pertinent that governments (especially in the global South) revisit their free zone policy architecture to create a reliable alternative economy with which to stimulate the macro economy especially when the risks associated with sustaining economic activities in the customs territory may be too high.
The discourse on corporate accountability for human rights violations has been shaped to a great extent by the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), resulting from the work of John Ruggie, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Business and Human Rights.
Attracting foreign investment while holding transnational corporations to account for any human rights transgressions is by no means an easy feat. It will require that a careful balance be struck between the interests of the host State and its people, and that of private actors expecting good risk-return ratios in pursuit of the bottom line. Although international mechanisms such as the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights have long endorsed accountability for transnational corporations, a zero draft international convention to regulate this issue has only recently been developed.